gay inc.

HRC Took Home $7.9 Million Less In 2010. Not That Joe Solmonese Got Paid Any Less

With the release of its 990 tax form — which all tax-exempt non-profits are required to release when anyone asks for them, even via email — the Human Rights Campaign might have avoided an official IRS complaint after repeatedly refusing to turn over the documents (just like the National Organization for Marriage is doing, which HRC is quote-unquote furious about). But it also means the “largest” Gay Inc. group is disclosing that its coffers are 17 percent poorer this year after a tough economy and growing resentment with HRC leadership have cut cash flow. Luckily, if you work at HRC you wouldn’t have noticed any budget problems in your paycheck.

Digging through the forms that he’s been urging HRC to release, Michael Petrelis finds in salary and benefits, programming head David Smith is taking home $245k, (now former?) development director Cathy Nelson took home $272k, and president Joe Solmonese is still earning a cool $304k (all pictured above, L-R). That’s roughly what they earned in the previous year, thanks to a two-year pay freeze mandated by the board of directors in 2008.

What did decline between 2009 and 2010? Overall revenue, that’s what. In 2009 HRC took in $45,792,310; in 2010 it was just $37,918,133, or about $7.9 million less. (HRC’s fiscal year runs April 1 – March 31.) Sort of makes you think that pay freeze wasn’t a way to keep salaries from increasing in hard times, but from decreasing. (Though it’s not like the board can strip away cash from Solmonese, who had his contract renewed for two years, and his fee locked in.)


But how does all this compare to other non-profits out there? Allow HRC to explain in its 2010 Annual Report:

Like many organizations, HRC reduced its budget in FY2010 in response to the recession. Unlike many organizations, HRC ended FY2010 in solid financial shape. With diligence, hard work and sacrifice, the revenue budget was met, expenses were controlled and spending was strategic. Expenses for management and administration were cut $1.19 million, or 21 percent, and fundraising expenses were cut $1.10 million, or 16 percent, from FY2009. Program spending represented 70 percent of every dollar spent, enabling us to fight for equality on many fronts, including: the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, groundbreaking work on marriage equality in the states, the successful “No Excuses” in-district lobbying program targeting all members of Congress.

Seventy cents of every dollar is going toward programming? That’s actually a (relatively) decent figure, until you realize said programming includes vanity projects (like this one) whose sole purpose is to distract The Gays from its ineffective lobbying.

And how much is HRC paying the guy who made it his job to attack gay military veterans? Because surely that’s a line item that can go.

Click for larger:

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  • Cam

    So let me get this straight, as a defense of their spending they are trying to say that they had something to do with Marriage advancement in some states??

    Lets see, would that help be when they came out and attacked the people filing the case in Iowa that got us Marriage there saying that it wasn’t the right time for a court case?

    Would it be when they attacked the case in CA. against Prop 8 that was recently decided in our favor, then after the decision HRC reps were on all the TV channels taking credit for the case?

    Would it be when they said that pushing for marriage equality in Washington DC was not a good thing to do politically for the Dems?

    Just wondering.

    Equality Maryland spends about $40,000 a year on a lobbyist. So far they have forced a reluctant governor to publically state that he will sign a marriage bill when it reaches his desk, and they have gotten Trans inclusive protections passed in multiple jurisdictions and killed a few anti-gay rights bills along the way.

  • Fitz

    WHO is still giving to HRC? Who the hell are you? What is wrong with you??????

  • continuum

    @Cam: +10000%

  • the crustybastard

    Joe Solmonese is worth his weight in horse manure.

  • AndrewW

    HRC and the rest of Gay Inc. are going out of business. As accountability catches on within the LGBT community, we won’t tolerate useless or counterproductive organizations anymore.

  • Cam


    AndrewW, sometimes you and I completely, and I mean COMPLETELY dissagree on things. I agree with you 100% on this post.

  • UMB

    Not that Joe doesn’t get paid too much for doing next to nothing (because he certainly does) but it is relevant to know that his salary is about the median for a CEO of a NFP of HRC’s size.

  • SNT

    FACE if HRC can’t have DADT, ENDA, AND SSM to pass so fast, they need these fights to be dragged out for as long as possible. because once we get them we don’t need them and Joe will lose his big paycheck…

    HRC Need to fire JOE and other ASAP. and get a whole new fresh team in place… Joe rather party and dine then do the work that HRC was once known for.

  • JR

    Wish I got paid $304K to do nothing but throw crappy cocktail parties.

  • Cam

    @UMB: said..

    “Not that Joe doesn’t get paid too much for doing next to nothing (because he certainly does) but it is relevant to know that his salary is about the median for a CEO of a NFP of HRC’s size.”

    However, the CEO’s of those other organizations are actually expected to show results.

  • David

    For every dollar that HRC takes in, something like 85 cents gets siphoned off for HRC’s expenses and for ineffective activities (like trying to lobby on Capitol Hill without employing a single former Congressional staffer as a lobbyist). The remaining 15 cents does filter out. But HRC is still a net negative. Gays would be better off if it didn’t exist.

    Consider Maine: If HRC had dedicated its huge resources to that state, we could have achieved a huge fundraising advantage. As was seen in WA state, we can win when the money imbalance is great enough. Instead, HRC gave a few hundred grand. We outraised the other side, but not by an overwhelming margin. And we lost by 5%. By contrast, NOM emptied its bank account to fund the anti-gay side in Maine and it got the results it wanted.

  • AndrewW

    @Cam: I agree with you most of the time Cam. HRC has hurt our movement by creating this false idea that they could deliver. The truth is they have never delivered anything. People are beginning to understand that. What HRC never mentioned in their disclosure documents is that the small, individual donations are down the most. People finally get it.

    This is a tough year for us. I hope we agree to retire Gay Inc. and we look for solutions. I think America is ready, but we aren’t. we need to be.

  • Derek Washington

    One thing. Just one thing. Name one thing they have done.

  • Brutus

    @SNT: Any “new team” you put in will have the exact same incentive problem you already identified: drag out enactment of ENDA and SSM and repeal of DADT. So that’s not a solution.

  • Brutus

    @AndrewW: What HRC never mentioned in their disclosure documents is that the small, individual donations are down the most.”

    If that wasn’t mentioned in their disclosures, how do you know it?

  • Brutus

    Moreover, how do you know that it has anything to do with people’s dissatisfaction with HRC? The people who have give only small amounts are probably the same people most affected by the economic downturn and less likely to donate $50 to anyone instead of spending it on rent or groceries.

  • Cam

    @Brutus: said..

    “@AndrewW: What HRC never mentioned in their disclosure documents is that the small, individual donations are down the most.”

    If that wasn’t mentioned in their disclosures, how do you know it?”

    He knows it because he has linked to their disclosure statements in the past.

    Small individual donors are the ones closest to the base, the ones that are effected by the issues. The larger donors, like Absolute or Budweiser, and other brands, are just donating to what they think is a representative of the gay community. HRC has been great at convincing straights that they represent us. Ir’s really been their biggest success story.

  • Herbert Wassinger

    HRC——-KMA !

    (kiss my ass)

  • xander

    HRC is a s(t)inking ship. Solmonese’s net compensation package should follow best practices of othe non-profits, where a key metric is increases in fundraising. ‘Locking in’ a salary without regard for success is a crying shame and a poor excuse for accountability.

    Basta ormai! Enough is enough already:

Comments are closed.