Forward Thinking

Adelson Funds Big Salaries

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Matt Brooks

Of the 19 Jewish nonprofits that pay their top executives over $400,000, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization America are the only two that have total expenditures of less than $10 million a year.

The RJC and the ZOA each spent around $3 million in 2010. That’s compared to the tens of millions spent by Jewish federations in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York, each of which pay their executive directors comparable salaries to what the top executives at the ZOA and the RJC earn.

The comparisons, which come from the Forward’s 2011 survey of the salaries of top Jewish communal executives, suggest that the chief executives at the ZOA and the RJC head up smaller operations than peers that earn similar salaries.

Though most of the Jewish communal executives earning $400,000 and head up service groups, the ZOA and RJC aren’t the only advocacy groups in the club. Top executives at the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee all earn roughly what the ZOA and RJC top executives earn. Those three groups each spent between $40 million and $65 million in 2010.

As I reported last week, ZOA national president Mort Klein got a raise to $435,000 in 2011. RJC executive director Matt Brooks earned $461,000 in 2010.

Besides their compensation practices and their right-of-center politics, the RJC and the ZOA also share at least one major donor. Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire and right-wing political donor who has spent a reported $70 million so far on the 2012 race, backs both groups.

As I first reported on Friday, the RJC is offering iPads to phone bank volunteers in key swing states over the next few weeks.


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