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Big salaries at a fishing nonprofit

Amanda Coyne

Andrew Jensen at The Alaska Journal of Commerce wrote a must-read piece about the huge executive salaries at Coastal Villages Regional Fund (CVRF). Executive Director Morgen Crow and Chief Operations Officer Trevor McCabe have earned a combined $4 million working for the nonprofit since 2006, Jensen reported.

McCabe is a former aide to Sen. Ted Stevens turned seafood lobbyist. McCabe was also in business with Ted’s son, Ben Stevens. They co-chaired the the Alaska Seafood Marketing Board, which steered federal money to seafood processors. Both Ben Stevens and McCabe were lobbyists for some of the companies that received federal marketing money.

The regional fund was established in 1992 as part of a program called community development quotas. CDQs, one of the more complicated programs in a state of complicated programs, was designed to give some rural coastal villages in Western Alaska a share of the fishing spoils and was negotiated by Ted.

Six nonprofits, including CVRF, were established to partake in the program. They receive the rights to harvest about 11 percent of the total Bering Sea Aleutian Islands fishing harvest. Jensen reports that according to the most recent annual reports and tax filings, net assets of the six groups now top $600 million.

Five of the nonprofits hire out the fishing and processing. The Coastal Villages Regional Fund is the only one that owns its assets, including a $40 million processing plant.

Here’s how Jensen sums up the salary situation:

From 2006 through 2009, Crow was paid more than $2.7 million in salary, benefits and bonuses, according to tax returns and annual reports. He makes more than 12 of the top 15 employees at state-based, publicly traded companies of GCI, Alaska Communications Systems Inc. and Northrim Bank.

Topped by Crow's $798,159, the top five employees at Coastal Villages made nearly $1.9 million during 2009. McCabe was paid a base salary of $297,000 as operations officer and received a $65,000 bonus.

McCabe's 2009 total of $362,000 was slightly less than the $362,358 he was paid by Coastal Villages in 2008 in salary ($197,358), legal fees ($115,000) and lobbying fees ($50,000)

Federal law prohibts individuals from receiving exessive salaries from nonprofits. The term is called inurement, and if found guilt, can result in an organization losing its tax exempt status. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com