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The Dodgers paid an exec $400K to run a $1.6M charity

Jul 9, 2010, 11:27 AM EDT

The Dodgers Dream Foundation is “a nonprofit charity whose mission is to serve the educational and
athletic needs of children and is supported by donations from the
public.” It has an annual budget of about $1.6 million.  The New York Times reports that a full one-quarter of that budget — $400,000 — went to its chairman, Howard Sunkin. Sunkin also happens to be the team’s senior vice president for public affairs, which is basically a lobbying/p.r. position.

This is a tremendously outsized salary for a charity of this size to paying out to its top executive.  It is also just the latest bit of evidence that the McCourts either (a) have no financial sense; or (b) have some reason to want to funnel Sunkin’s lobbying salary through the charity.  And who knows? Maybe they funnel money back from the Dodgers to the charity to make up for it?  Not much the McCourts do with money makes sense, so it’s hard to determine whether this is mismanagement, brilliance, chicanery or some benign work-around.

The only thing we know for sure is that the more we learn about how owners spend their money — the Dodgers owners and every other owner, really — the less we really want to learn.

  1. Paper Lions - Jul 9, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    I suppose I’ll have to start asking “How much does the chairman of your charity make?” from now on when charities call asking for donations.

  2. APBA Guy - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Having spent my early adult years in DC, I learned very quickly to look at the % of budget directed to target as an indicator of a charity’s contribution worthiness. And so I disagree with one aspect of your commentary Craig: “not much the McCourts do with money makes sense.”
    It makes perfect sense, if you are a greedy, self-absorbed, narcissistic individual(s) who cynically believes that image trumps substance. Consider the tax implications if the Dodgers do direct any contributions to this charity. The PR guy’s salary is in whole or part paid for by those deductible contributions. So his salary is subsidized by the taxpayer. From the McCourts point of view that makes sense, and frees up money to spend on $ 1000 dinners for themselves. Most of what they do with money makes sense when viewed this way. It just isn’t what most of us would do if we had money. We hope.

  3. Rays fan1 - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Paper Lions–Actually, you should indeed be asking what the overhead percentage is. Every fall the federal gov’t runs the “Combined Federal Campaign”–big charity drive involving thousands of charities, including all of the United Way charities. The charities that participate in the CFC are required to report their overhead, so virtually any legit charity will readily provide you that info. (Also, CFC requires any charity with overheads higher than 25% to give assurances that they are working to reduce overhead and ensure that more money thus goes where it belongs. Mr Sunkin’s taking 25% of the Dodgers’ Dream Foundation’s budget all by himself.)

  4. Schlom - Jul 9, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Didn’t the McCourts basically put up their ownership of the Dodgers as collateral for their loan to buy the Dodgers? On some level it makes some sense (“of course I’ll be able to pay the loan back, I’ll own the Dodgers!”) but it seems very shady.

  5. JCD - Jul 9, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    Please, these people haven’t paid any income tax in how long? EVERYTHING they do with money seems and probably is shady. When does the IRS look into these people?

  6. Jesuswtf - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Unfortunately, Charity Navigator — — does not have a rating for The Dodgers Dream Foundation, though it is a good source to find out where money is going for many charities.

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