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Salaries for Top Watchdogs Exceed $100K

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Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer receives one of the more modest salaries among executives of watchdog groups.

Using Sloan’s argument, Potter would make about $320,000 per year for an equivalent 40-hour work week.

In an e-mail, Potter declined to comment.

The head of Public Citizen, an elder statesman among watchdog groups, is also paid considerably less than Sloan. In 2009, Robert Weissman took over from longtime Public Citizen head Joan Claybrook and, although his tenure is too short to appear in tax forms, an organization spokesman disclosed Friday that he is paid $157,000 a year.

“It’s the low end of the range of comparably sized organizations,” the spokesman said.

IRS tax forms also show that Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, is paid less than Sloan. According to his official biography, the former Common Cause president has decades of experience and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School.

Wertheimer makes $113,300 annually, less than half of Sloan’s overall pay, tax forms reveal.

Wertheimer declined to comment.

An executive recruiter interviewed for this article said it’s not uncommon for salaries to vary so dramatically within even such a narrowly focused industry. For many top jobs, the source said, “the No. 1 factor ... is what you’re making now.”

“Believe or not, employers take into account what you’re making now in figuring out your salary, so most of the time they see what you’re being paid now and can certainly pay in and around that,” the source said.

Executive compensation at nonprofit groups also may also hinge on who pays the organization’s bill, the source said.

“You have to look at A) who funds it, and B) who are they really?” the recruiter said. “What are they doing and who backs them?”

That information is not typically made public on tax forms.

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