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Matt Brown Made Nearly $300K for Financially Fledgling Non-Profit with $2M Budget

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Matt Brown, speaking at a Global Zero event

For more than a decade, former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown was missing from Rhode Island politics — he was running a non-profit group called Global Zero — an organization whose tagline reads “a world without nuclear weapons.”

Brown’s Global Zero budget was approximately $2 million per year between 2014 and 2016, and Brown’s compensation was nearly $300,000. In 2016, Brown was paid $271,700 in salary and an additional $27,438 in non-taxable income for a total of $299,138.

The non-profit trade publication, The Non-Profit Times, writes that for organizations with operating budgets between $1 million and $2.5 million, the average CEO salary is $103,704.

The Houston Chronicle offered similar statistics via a separate study of non-profits. The data showed that those at small charities, with expenses of less than $3.5 million per year, "made a median salary of $95,481.”

In repeated requests for comment regarding the aberration between Brown's salary and the organization’s annual budget size, Brown refused to comment and his spokesman repeatedly forwarded information about the organization’s purpose.

When asked if Brown’s salary was commensurate with the size of the organization, Brown campaign spokesperson Ron Knox wrote in an email to GoLocal, “Global Zero packs a very large punch relative to its operating budget. Global Zero generated more than $50 million in press coverage in 2017 on nuclear weapons-related issues and over $175 million total to date through the years. Matt co-founded the organization, traveling the world for years working to generate dialogue and agreements among governments where dialogue had broken down or deteriorated, building grassroots and youth involvement worldwide, convening leaders and experts to generate policy solutions to advance disarmament and security and conducting public outreach and education. He is proud of the work of Global Zero and believes it has made the world safer.”

When Brown announced his campaign in March, he said he is running as a champion of the underserved.

In his announcement letter to Rhode Islanders, Brown wrote, “Rhode Islanders are being hit hard by the brutal forces of economic inequality and wealth concentration. In our state today, people struggle with wages that are too low and debt that is too high, while the cost of basic needs continues to rise. Our poverty rate is the highest in New England. Our state government is running a $200 million deficit, while critical needs go unmet.”

Both Brown and the campaign also refused to address the organization’s financial performance. In 2014, Global Zero’s operating expenses exceeded revenues by $180,000. In 2015, the organization was positive by $15,000, but Brown’s organization returned to negative in 2016 — the organization lost more than $343,000.

Brown also wrote in his letter, “Our problems are the result of a decades-old system that has enriched the few at the top while crushing economic opportunity and mobility for everyone else. The time for tweaking the system – shifting it a little to the left or right — is long past. Unless we make big changes, things will only get worse. Our political system has proven incapable of making the big changes we need.”

Celebrities join the fight

While Global Zero’s budget was struggling, it was attracting celebrities to push its message of a nuclear-free world.

Brown’s organization cites Hollywood celebrities as some of its boosters — Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Naomi Watts.  The celebrities joined with Global Zero to create a YouTube promo video in which celebrities call for global disarmament and citing the phrase “demand zero.”

Global Zero's Efforts: Success and Failure

Since Global Zero was co-founded by Brown, his spokesman Knox says the organization is "dedicated entirely to carrying out the difficult and complex policy, political and diplomatic work required to generate disarmament negotiations among the nuclear countries. To that end, Global Zero has grown to include 300 world leaders and half a million members worldwide; hosted four Global Zero Summits and numerous regional conferences; built an international student movement with youth leaders all around the world; produced an acclaimed documentary, Countdown to Zero, with the team behind An Inconvenient Truth; and launched international grassroots and media campaigns to educate millions of people worldwide about nuclear risks.”

Also during that time Iran has been racing to build nuclear weapons — and is now under an agreement with the United States to discontinue its effort to produce weapons-grade plutonium byproducts. Advocates for the complex agreement negotiated under Barack Obama’s administration say the agreement is enforceable and while it allows Iran to continue to do nuclear research, the country is barred from producing nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump has advocated the U.S. should abandon the treaty.

In addition, North Korea has developed nuclear capabilities over the past decade.


Related Slideshow: Powerful Donors to Matt Brown - April 2018

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Gina Raimondo

Then Venture Capitalist of Village Ventures, Raimondo gave Brown three gifts totaling $600.

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Joe Paolino

Former Providence Mayor and mega-developer donated $2,100

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Meredith Curren

Raimondo staffer and former executive with Pease and Curren. The company is one of the oldest precious metal companies in America. She donated $1,600 to Brown in five donations.

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Jim Field 

Former GOP powerhouse. Served as in the Ford-Cheney White House. Field donated $2,000.

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Brad Dimeo

CEO of Dimeo Construction, five donations totaling $2,600.

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Sheldon and Sandra Whitehouse

The couple donated $3,250 to Brown.

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Thomas Goddard

A patriarch of one of Rhode Island’s oldest and most wealthy families. He made three donations to Brown totaling $1,250.

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Joseph Caramadre and wife

The infamous and jailed pension manager donated $3,000 and his wife Paula donated an additional $3,000. As GoLocal reported in 2012, “Joseph A. Caramadre pled guilty to conspiring to steal and to use the identities of terminally-ill patients to obtain millions of dollars in illicit profits from insurance companies and bond issuers. He also admitted to making numerous misrepresentations to insurance companies, brokerage houses and dealers in furtherance of the scheme.

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Fred Carpionato

Mega-developer and owner of numerous shopping centers in New England including Chapel View, donated $500 to Brown.

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Chace Family

Arguably one of Rhode Island’s wealthiest families — the Chace family — including the late-Kim Chace,  Liz Chace, downtown developers Buff Chace and three other members of the family combined $15,500.

The late Kim Chace was a regular on the Forbes 400 list and ranked with wealth of more than $1 billion.

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Jonathan Nelson

Founder of Providence Equity Group. Nelson ran a $50 billion fund and is ranked as RI's richest man by Forbes.

He is a Brown donor.

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Don Sweitzer

IGT executive is a close confidant to Governor Gina Raimondo. He and his wife were Brown donors.

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Paul Choquette and William Gilbane

Two top executives at one of New England's biggest companies both donated to Brown. 

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Richard Baccari

Baccari has had a tumultuous couple of years. The mega-developer has put together a massive collection of successful projects throughout the region, but not without great effort and some pain.

He donated $400 to Brown.

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Henry Kates

Former President of Mutual Benefits insurance company — one of the biggest financial sector collapses in RI history. It was the 18th largest insurer in America when Kates was forced to resign and the company was taken over by regulators, according to the New York Times. Kates died a few years ago. Kates donated six donations total $2,625.

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Stephen Cardi

Cardi Construction executive made two donations totaling $2,000 to Brown.

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Gordon Fox

The former Speaker of the House was released last year from federal prison. He served 25-months. He donated $500 to Brown.

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In total Matthew Brown received:

More than $740,000 from individual contributions

More than $34,000 from PACs

There are 2,450 individual gifts


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