August 31, 2010; Source: New York Times | There’s no news in the fact that sports teams pay eye-popping salaries. But when the cash starts flowing that freely into the pockets of officials who run the charitable operations of a professional sports franchise, expect to hear some booing. Ever since the New York Times in July disclosed that Howard Sunkin, the president of the Los Angeles Dodger’s charitable foundation, earned more than $400,000 in 2007, he’s been feeling the heat.
Now comes word that the California Attorney General’s office is investigating pay practices at the Dodger’s Dream Foundation. While a spokesperson for the state office that oversees charities refused to confirm any investigation, the Times says it learned from an anonymous source that the team is cooperating fully on requests for information on Sunkin’s pay.
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The year that Sunkin, who also serves as the Dodger’s senior vice president for public affairs, earned $400,000, that amount represented some 25 percent of the foundation’s $1.6 million budget. Compared with other team charities, Sunkin’s salary is clearly in a league of its own. Less than half of others who oversee foundations for their teams get no salary, and those that do, typically only pull down about $90,000 a year. Nonprofit experts the Times spoke with say the kind of pay Sunkin is earning is what $100 million charities pay to their CEOs. We wonder how long it will be before the team can shake off suspicions there’s something foul in the air.—Bruce Trachtenberg