When Otto Bremer gave his bank holdings to charity 70 years ago, he left instructions to allow the trustees of his foundation to establish their own pay. The three trustees who currently oversee the Otto Bremer Foundation, in St. Paul, have used that latitude to give themselves extraordinary raises: Two have received a 1,000-percent increase in just the past nine years.
In June, the Otto Bremer trustees pushed out Randi Roth and eliminated her executive-director position, naming themselves co-CEOs. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, is calling for the Internal Revenue Service and Minnesota’s attorney general to open an investigation into the trustees’ compensation.
“The people making the decisions about how to run this foundation have decided to run it in a way that they’re personally benefiting from it,” says Aaron Dorfman, NCRP’s executive director.