WASHINGTON -- The chief executives of major companies are frequently blasted for their massive salaries, but new reports show that the heads of the nation's largest nonprofit interest groups are earning similar paychecks.
The Huffington Post first reported last month that Tom Donohue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, earned $4.7 million in 2010. But according to an analysis published by Politico on Tuesday, Donohue's salary still lags behind the pay earned by the heads of two other major lobbying groups.
Billy Tauzin, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana, served as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America for the first half of 2010. He topped Politico's list by earning $11.6 million in that short period, a significant bump over the $4.6 million he earned in the same job in 2009.
Tauzin was followed by American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard, who made $6.4 million in 2010, coming in just ahead of Donohue. In all, none of the 10 highest earners among nonprofit CEOs made less than one million dollars that year.
While not earning as much as their colleagues who represent industry, many well-known political figures also pulled in sizeable paychecks. Influential conservative Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, earned a small pay increase to $225,000 in 2010. John Podesta, the former Clinton chief of staff and recently retired head of the Center for American Progress, made $328,500.
Ivan Adler, a headhunter at executive search firm McCormick Group, told Politico that the salaries defy the logic of the current tough economy. "This is a parallel universe to the rest of the country," he said. "We don't make anything in Washington; we manufacture nothing but ideas, so a recession here doesn't affect things as much as it does in the real world."