Home At Last's annual Internal Revenue Service report shows it paid the non-profit agency's president for an average 20 hours' work per week in 2007; her total compensation for the year was $26,000.
A non-profit adoption agency in Florida led by the wife of Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth paid her more than $76,000 in wages in 2004-2007, after getting nearly $66,000 in grants from the charitable journalism foundation, newly emerged public documents show.
The payments to Dr. Rachel Fornes, a chiropractor, began in 2004, when annual revenue at the Home At Last Adoption Agency in Cocoa Beach started soaring.
Home At Last is among hundreds of non-profits that received millions of dollars in Freedom Forum grants since 2000 -- even though many of the groups appear to share little in common with the charitable foundation's journalism mission, public documents show.
The wages paid to Fornes surfaced today in a Gannett Blog review of the adoption agency's annual reports to the Internal Revenue Service. In 2007, Home At Last paid Fornes $26,000 on revenue of $317,517. It reported expenses of $261,380 that year, including the wages paid to Fornes, the documents show.
$1.1 million in revenue
The documents show Home At Last reported $1,089,958 in revenue from 2000 to 2007, including fees paid by prospective parents. About 61% came in 2007 and 2006 alone, as the agency's revenue rose sharply, the documents say. Home At Last charges about $30,000 per adoption, according to its online application form. The single-biggest item is the agency fee of $18,500.
Freedom Forum, based in Washington, D.C., has refused to answer questions about spending on Home At Last and other non-profits nationwide -- including in Florida's Brevard County. Neuharth, 84 (left), and Fornes live in the county's Cocoa Beach, where they are raising their six adopted children. For example, Freedom Forum gave $35,500 to the Montessori Parent Organization in Indian Harbour Beach, and $46,500 to Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne from 2000 to 2007, public documents show.
Fornes started the business in 2001 as Babies Up For Adoption Agency Inc. Three years later, she renamed it Home At Last, according to Florida state business registration documents. Fornes has registered two other companies at the same address: Dr. Rachel Fornes & Associates LLC, and a day spa called Spa Nirvana, state records show.
Neuharth has two adult children from a previous marriage. Melbourne also is home to Florida Today, one of Gannett's 85 daily newspapers.
The grants to Home At Last and other charities came as administrators were simultaneously invading the foundation's endowment to build a $450 million mixed-use complex for its most visible and costly project, the Newseum. The news museum in Washington replaced a smaller version when it opened last April -- three years late, and $200 million over initial cost projections, foundation documents show.
In November, Freedom Forum cut the Newseum's workforce by 10%, or about 25 jobs. Foundation Chairman and CEO Charles Overby (left) said the reduction was necessary because of a decline in the endowment, to $450 million from $600 million.
A Neuharth family office?
Neuharth is senior advisory chairman to the foundation, which is governed by its 19-member board of trustees. Freedom Forum paid him $225,000 in 2007, plus another $184,482 for expenses, the foundation's IRS reports show. A daughter by his first marriage, Jan Neuharth, an enquine enthusiast in Middleburg, Va., is also a trustee; she was paid $46,000 in 2007.
Neuharth, the retired Gannett chairman and CEO, launched Freedom Forum in 1991 with $650 million in Gannett capital handed over under duress by shareholders. The foundation has been run since then like charity's version of a Neuharth family office, Gannett Blog found in a review of more than 9,000 pages of its annual public IRS reports.
Freedom Forum says it is "a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. The foundation focuses on three priorities: the Newseum, First Amendment freedoms and newsroom diversity."
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