Sunday, June 19, 2011

GLAAD's New IRS 990 Filing

Over the weekend, Jarrett Barrios, the inept executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation turned in his resignation to the board. Good riddance. He was facing serious questioning for taking controversial stands on the AT&T merger with T-Mobile and net neutrality, while offering contradictory statements about his correspondence with the Federal Communications Commission on those issues.

You may recall that in September I had a phone chat and email exchanges with Laurie Perper, the former co-chair of board who went public with her criticism. I'm proud to say that at a time when less than a handle of gay folks were demanding accountability from Barrios and GLAAD's board, this blog brought some sunshine to the group. GLAADies were very upset and posted numerous anonymous comments trashing Perper and myself.

Once I learned about an $85,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation to GLAAD to assist gay bloggers amplify their online voices, I raised critical questions since I could find no bloggers who had been helped by GLAAD through the grant. I also pointed out the problems inherent with GLAAD hosting panels with mainstream reporters who should be serving as watchdogs over the group and not getting co-opted.

Wish I could say many other gay bloggers or gay print reporters were scrutinizing GLAAD in any serious way, but I can't except for Matthew Bajko of the Bay Area Reporter. When Bajko wrote a much-needed story about GLAAD stonewalling his efforts to ascertain Barrios' salary, I grew curious about IRS legal requirements about when a tax exempt 501c3 organization is required to its most current 990 filing.

After checking with the IRS and an accountant familiar with IRS 990 requirements, the answer was clear. The day an executive director or chief financial officer of a charity accepts the latest IRS 990 from their accounting firm is the day the filing must be made available for public inspection. (Many thanks to Bajko for prompting me to learn this very important fact.)

After examining the three most current 990s for GLAAD, it was evident they file their tax report by the second week of August. With that knowledge and IRS law on my side, I sent a request to Richard Ferraro and his boss Barrios in mid August last year for their current 990 and within a day not only did they share it with me but GLAAD also posted the filing on their site.

Thanks to my request and Bajko's story, GLAAD was forced to release the IRS 990 and the community learned he was paid $225,000 in his first year at the group.

GLAAD's new IRS 990 report will be available by mid August and I hope there will be many bloggers and reporters demanding a copy. It should be posted on their site on the day they accept the filing from their accounting firm, in a few weeks.

But the resignation of Barrios and the matter of when GLAAD accepts and releases its IRS 990 are small pieces of a much larger frame. This corrupt organization should do the movement a huge favor and dismantle itself before 2011 is over. The gay community will get along just fine, a lot better positively, if GLAAD were to close up shop.

We all received early warnings about the then-smaller corruption issues at this group in May 2005 when gay leftist and intellectual Michael Bronski published his "Not So GLAAD Anymore" for Z magazine. There is no reason for GLAAD to leech off the community another day.

Once GLAAD goes away, then we can talk about good, proper and effective media advocacy. GLAAD long ago entered the beyond redemption and relevancy zone.

(Photo: Ricky Martin, gay pop singer with a career in decline, poses with Barrios, who will now have plenty of time to listen to Ricky's records, at one of GLAAD's too many award ceremonies earlier this year. Credit: Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images.)

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