In addition to a salary exceeding $400,000 a year paid by a
nonprofit group, Republican Senate candidate Clark Durant receives an elaborate
benefits package from a second foundation, according to a report obtained by
The Macomb Daily.
The internal report shows that Durant’s Detroit-based private
and charter school network is linked to a charity, New Common School
Foundation, that provides the candidate:
* An $850 monthly car lease allowance,
in addition to gas and maintenance costs;
* A $2,000 yearly stipend for personal
purchases of books;
* Reimbursement for travel expenses;
* Full health care benefits
for himself and his wife;
* A life insurance policy valued at $1 million;
* A a severance package that will pay him $385,000 if he quits
or is fired by the foundation.
Previous reports indicated that Durant has received cash at
or near $500,000 annually from a second nonprofit associated with his schools,
Genesis Foundation, where he serves as president. The candidate has countered
that he never received more than $373,000 in salary from Genesis; the rest of
his compensation consisted of benefits.
The two nonprofits are closely tied to Cornerstone Schools,
where Durant served as CEO for many years and is now a member of the
board of directors.
Joseph Koss, a spokesman for the Durant campaign, said the candidate's compensation has been used by political foes as a distraction.
"Clark has raised over $100 million for
urban education. Furthermore, these efforts saved Michigan taxpayers more than
$80 million in the last 10 years by offering a private alternative to enrolling in the public school system," Koss said.
"Not a penny of his compensation was paid for by taxpayers, or by the kids of
Detroit. Instead, two private donors felt called to pay Clark themselves, so that every dollar he raised could
go to the kids he was called to help."
The two donors are billionaire
builder William Pulte and Auburn Hills investor Bruce Becker. They gave the foundation about $1.8 million from 2008-10. Pulte has said Durant was paid for his "vision and judgment."
Under fire in the Senate campaign for his extravagant
compensation, Durant, president of the New Common School Foundation, has
pointed to the December 2011 report as evidence that his compensation was
scrutinized and approved by outside sources.
The 20-page report was prepared by
a firm that specializes in executive compensation analysis, San Francisco-based
Frederick W. Cook & Co.
The document indicates that Durant receives compensation
equal to the top 25 percent of executives at nonprofits, including some of the
largest foundations in America
and charter school networks that are far larger than Cornerstone Schools, which
provides education for about 1,500 students at five Detroit schools.
The Cook report concluded that Durant’s overall compensation
was “reasonable” based on his outstanding success in developing the Cornerstone
Schools while serving as an administrator, fundraiser and strategist.
In recent years, here is how Durant’s compensation shapes
-- $18,000 in salary from NCSF, $403,000 in pay from Genesis Foundation,
and nearly 70,000 in benefits from NCSF, for a total of $488,975.
-- $33,000 in pay from NCSF, $453,000 in salary from Genesis, and benefits
from NCSF that raised his total to $553,619.
-- $24,000 in pay from NCSF, $350,000 in salary from Genesis, and benefits
from NCSF that brought a total of $444,881.
The report also shows that Durant’s compensation has
undergone some twists and turns through the years. As recently as 2007, he received $245,000 in
pay from NCSF, $200,000 from Cornerstone and nothing from Genesis. But his NCSF
benefits boosted his overall
compensation to $487,012.
On Monday, the Michigan Democratic Party filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Durant’s unusual compensation, which allows him and
his daughter, Hope Durant Loomis, to receive 95 percent of Genesis’ annual
revenues, is illegal.
Durant is trailing in the polls but he hopes to upset
Republican favorite Pete Hoekstra, a former congressman from west Michigan, in Tuesday’s
GOP primary. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in
the November general election.
In an interview with The Macomb Daily on Monday, Durant said
partisan politics has damaged a “wonderful story” of inner city schools that
achieve high test scores and graduation rates.
Hoekstra and Durant, plus a darkhorse contender, Randy
Hekman, will face off in a debate on Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Michigan Public
TV studios in East Lansing.