Making Green While Pushing the Green Agenda

A quasi-governmental nonprofit is paying its CEO well over a million dollars a year in salary and benefits. This is far more than its organizational peers, and vastly more than the salaries of government officials who are supposed to be overseeing its operations.

But this doesn’t surprise National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. He said:

No one should be surprised that a congressionally chartered foundation, created 37 years ago, has evolved in ways that make a mockery of its original mission.

An investigative report by The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal recently discovered in the tax records of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) that CEO/Executive Director Jeff Trandahl received $1.29 million in annual compensation from the group in 2018. In comparison, similar tax filings found that Sierra Club Executive Director Dan Chu earned $238,000 in 2017. American Forest Foundation President and CEO Thomas D. Martin earned $386,560 in 2018. Furthermore, the interior secretary – who appoints people to serve on the NFWF board – earns just $219,200 annually.

Alex Echols, a former NFWF deputy policy director and former acting executive director for the group, told Daily Signal reporter Kevin Mooney that “the fact that the salaries are as high as they are does raise some questions.”

NFWF was created by Congress in 1984 to support grantmaking by the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It works to build relationships between the government, nonprofits, private companies and individuals. It has brokered billions in grants for projects such as the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

It is now expected that the NFWF will play a major role in the Biden Administration’s intentions for the government to acquire more land for its federal portfolio.

The revelation of the extraordinary pay structure at the NFWF is problematic. Bonner explained, however, that this is nothing new in the D.C. swamp:

That’s the nature of mission creep, a chronic Washington disease. Nowhere in NFWF’s charter does it say that the foundation should serve to enrich its executive director and other high-level employees. This happened because there has been no oversight worthy of the name, either by the NFWF’s board or by Congress.

“Absent adult supervision, these obscene levels of compensation will continue,” Bonner continued. “While millions of Americans saw their livelihoods destroyed during the pandemic-related lockdowns, life was good at the NFWF.”

To read all of the Daily Signal report, click here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.