Holding LGBT Leaders Accountable

A quick note highlighting the work of Bay Area Reporter assistant editor (and co-blogger here) Matthew S. Bajko and his tough questioning of Jarrett Barrios regarding his salary at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. You sense he got under Barrios’ skin after Barrios said the public did not need to have the salary information as long as GLAAD board members were okay with it.  Barrios’ salary isn’t available on IRS filings because Barrios wasn’t a full-time employee during the time period of the last filings.

During his first interview with the Bay Area Reporter since being hired, Barrios last week declined to disclose the actual amount of his compensation.

He did boast that he had reduced his salary between 10 percent and 15 percent and “took a big pay cut to come work for GLAAD.” He also noted he takes the bus, flies coach, and “I don’t take per diem reimbursements.”

But when pressed on what the nonprofit’s board set his salary at, rumored to be between $300,000 and $350,000, Barrios said he was not obligated to disclose the figure.

“What is my salary at? That is actually not public information,” said Barrios, 40, a former Massachusetts state lawmaker. “I will tell you I decreased my salary when I got there by about 15 percent, 10 percent.”

As a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, GLAAD is required to disclose how much it pays its top employees in its federal tax return, known as a 990. All nonprofits are required to release their 990 forms to the public.

The most recent forms, however, are usually one to two years old, and most organizations will disclose the salary of their executive director when asked. It is the B.A.R.‘s policy to ask for the compensation of all newly hired leaders of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations.

Bajko also pressed Barrios on a number of issues relating to GLAAD’s effectiveness and public advocacy.

It was the kind of questioning the press should do of leaders. While the Human Rights Campaign and, to a lesser extent, GLAAD are often in the cross-hairs of the LGBT press and citizen journalists, it is also important to ask difficult questions of groups and leaders who have warmer and tighter relationship with the activist community, like the National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Lambda Legal.

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2 Responses

  1. In that spirit: could we have the salaries and compensation of NLGJA’s leaders?

    • Fair question. Federal law requires us to send copies of our most recent 990 in response to written requests to our national office by mail, fax or e-mail. However, our most recent 990 is from 2008, so it doesn’t contain the information you’re seeking. Our 990 for 2009 isn’t yet available, but we’ll be happy to send you the most current info. Please send your request by email to mtune@nlgja.org. Thanks!

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