Category Archives: Mort Klein Exposed

Mort Klein Misleads Public About His Salary

It is painfully apparent that Mort Klein is continuing to lie about all the money he made at the ZOA.  He attempted to justify his extraordinary compensation during the last 6 years, including $1,245,681 in 2008 alone, by stating that he worked full-time for the first 6 years at the ZOA for free, and that his average salary over his 20 year tenure at the ZOA was “only” $200,000.

When the actual figures for 2001-2013 were revealed, however, it became clear that Mort Klein earned at least $5.4 million during those years.  That meant that, even if he had earned absolutely nothing from January 1, 1994 through December 31, 2000, Mort Klein’s salary averaged $270,000 per year.  The actual numbers proved that Mort Klein was lying.

There is now additional information that makes Mort Klein’s lies even worse.  Specifically, a former highly placed employee at the ZOA has disclosed the following:

1. Mort Klein was first elected in or about December of 1993 and began his presidency in 2004.

2.  Contrary to his representation, he did not work full-time during the first 4 years; he worked only part-time.

3.  In December of 1997 Mort Klein began to pay himself a salary of $40,000, even though that was against the ZOA constitution at the time, which did not allow the president to get a salary.

4.  In December of 1998, one year later, Mort Klein arranged to have the ZOA constitution amended so that he could receive a salary. For the preceding 12 months he was taking a salary illegally.

5.  He then began to take a salary of $99,000 per year.

6.  One year later Mort Klein awarded himself a raise to $125,000 per year.

7. Adding all this up, Mort Klein received $264,000 in salary during years he said he worked for free. Further, during the first 4 of those years, he worked only-part time.  Even worse, he took $40,000 in violation of the ZOA constitution.

8. Consequently, Mort Klein’s justification for taking $5.4 million in salary from 2001 through 2013 is yet another falsehood.  Add to this that the ZOA failed to file its tax returns for 3 consecutive years starting 2008 ( the year Mort Klein made more than $1.2 million), that the ZOA lost its 501c3 status as a result, and that Mort Klein then concealed this information from the public, including the ZOA’s donors.

These are facts and actual numbers.  They do not lie.  Only one person is lying.  He should not be reelected President of the ZOA.

“Anonymous” Memo Urging Mort’s Replacment

Back in April of 2011 an anonymous employee or member of the ZOA’s National Board of Directors circulated a memo to the entire Board entitled “Time For A Change.”  The memo set forth serious problems that the ZOA was experiencing under Mort Klein’s management, It explained that the ZOA was not nearly as large or successful as it should be, that Mort Klein is an “abusive bully” with employees, and that Mort has a poor reputation with leaders of other Jewish organizations. “He is mocked, disrespected and disliked.”

This memo was not written by Steve Goldberg, who had a warm and friendly relationship with Mort Klein at the time. In fact, the financial scandal that resulted in the ZOA’s loss of its 501c3 status did not surface until 2012, the following year.  Thus, some knowledgeable ZOA employee or other Board member wrote it. Mort Klein told Steve Goldberg that he believed that a specific Board member wrote it, and that he “practically admitted” doing so in a telephone conversation he had with Mort Klein.  We have no idea who wrote the memo. Nevertheless, whoever wrote the memo was very perceptive.
It is important to note that the memo was written before the ZOA lost its 501c3 status, before it was discovered that the ZOA had not filed its tax returns for 3 consecutive years, before the cover-up by Mort Klein of the loss of the ZOA’s tax-exempt status, and before it was discovered that Mort Klein had become so wealthy from working at the ZOA, including a salary of $1,245,681 in 2008 that was concealed form most of the ZOA Board, the IRS and the public.  Those facts must be considered in addition to those set forth in the memo, which is set forth below.

MEMO: TIME FOR A CHANGE

We are all aware of Mort Klein’s best qualities which have always served the ZOA very well in the past. There is no doubt that we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. However, it must be acknowledged that he suffers from several increasing deficiencies which are having a negative and destructive impact. These have transformed him into an obstacle to growth and make the need for a change more urgent.

His personal idiosyncrasies are adversely affecting the way he runs our organization, deals with employees and relates to those whose help we need but are alienated by his behavior.

  1. After 114 years of existence and 18 years of Mort’s stewardship the ZOA should be a much larger, more powerful and better funded organization than it is.
  2. Mort’s press releases, opinion pieces and speeches are terrific but his people skills almost don’t exist unless you are a big donor. It is not unusual to have to call 4 or 5 times before you get a return call.
  3.  Mort is frugal to a fault. He will not employ enough good people and pay them properly to create what could genuinely be called a “national” organization.
  4. He fails to delegate and tends to micro-manage. This was okay in the days when things were desperate but it now hampers progress.
  5. Part of the reason he will not delegate is mainly due to the fact that he has only managed to keep mainly mediocre people on board with us and he doesn’t trust them. The good ones get so frustrated that they resign or get fired because Mort sees them as competitors who may steal what he sees as the limelight from him which he considers reserved for himself.
  6. Mort guards his power. He is normally the only person in our organization who has any relationship with our major donors. As good as Mort is at ingratiating himself with major donors he is an abusive bully when dealing with employees directly beneath him. His charm is selectively applied.
  7. There is absolutely no plan for a smooth transition of power if he resigned or became incapacitated.
  8. He has made the ZOA into a reflection of himself as opposed to an independent organization with effective internal communications all coordinating with each other. There is a difference between leadership and an unhealthy inclination towards self-promotion.
  9. There is a dysfunctional relationship between Mort and many of our employees. It is almost toxic. Most of the personnel problems mentioned in the article which appeared in THE FORWARD several years ago were valid and accurate. They have only increased. If a confidential survey were to be undertaken of present and former employees you would be shocked and embarrassed at the horror stories. An independent human resources company should be hired or a committee should be established to investigate and report.
  10.  Mort’s reputation among the leaders of other major Jewish organizations is not good. He is mocked, disrespected and disliked. This is not because of the strong positions he takes on issues which may differ from their own. It is because he is egotistical, uncooperative, rude, unnecessarily confrontational and sometimes completely irrational.
  11.  It is time for the board to investigate and act in the best interests of the ZOA.

How Much Has Mort Klein Made from the ZOA? Millions!

Below is a chart of Mort Klein’s salary taken from the official Form 990s filed by the ZOA with the government:

Year   –   $
2001 – 134,747
2002 – 162,029
2003 – 186,279
2004  – 212,769
2005  – 249,462
2006  – 279,346
2007 – 315,385
2008 – 1,245,851
2009 – 717,700
2010 – 467,818
2011 – 518,869
2012 – 472,764

Total for 12 years: $4,963,019
Average for 12 years: $ 413,584

Note that 2008 was the first year in which the ZOA “forgot” to file its Form 990. It was not filed until the end of 2012, so the information about the enormity of Mort Klein’s salary was not publicly available for more than four years. The Form 990s for 2009, 2010 and 2011 were also not filed until late 2012, so again the public was in the dark. Moreover, Mort Klein actually laid off some employees and asked others to take pay cuts starting 2009 because of the recession.

It was the failure to file the Form 990s that caused the ZOA to lose its 501c3 status from May of 2011 until May of 2013, a fact that was covered up by Mort Klein until September of 2012.

Mort Klein justifies his enormous salary by claiming that he donated his time as a volunteer for the first six years at ZOA, and that his big increases were to compensate him for his sacrifice. That excuse doesn’t wash. First, the job was a volunteer one when Mort sought the position in 1994. He knew he was not getting paid. It is disingenuous for him to complain about it later.

Second, Mort Klein has stated in the press that if you averaged his salary for his 20 years of presidency of the ZOA, it would come out to only about $200,000 per year.

But Mort Klein’s arithmetic is off. Here’s the proof. We know Mort Klein earned substantially more than $400,000 in 2013, which will bring his total for 13 years to approximately $5.4 million. Assuming Mort Klein made absolutely nothing for the seven years of 1994 through 2000, his average salary would be approximately $270,000 per year, which is 35% more than the $200,000 he claims. Since Mort Klein almost certainly was paid a salary in 2000, and perhaps earlier, his average compensation is actually even higher.

Mort Klein has to know how much he earned and that his excuse that he averaged “only” $200,000 per year over 20 years is false. Why does he feels the need to understate his income so substantially?

Steve Goldberg, Mort Klein’s challenger for ZOA President, believes the ZOA should be spending money fighting for Israel, not enriching its President. If Steve is elected, the ZOA will no longer be squandering its money on an unseemly salary for its President. Instead, the money will be spent on programs, activism and growth aimed at defending Israel.

Stop Mistreatment of ZOA Employees!

The ZOA, under National President Mort Klein, has suffered unacceptably high turnover of valuable employees. The Forward has chronicled mistreatment of ZOA employees as early as 2006. Unfortunately, the pattern of bullying continues until today. The culture of fear, intimidation, and employee turnover under Mr. Klein derails ZOA from its mission and prevents employees from giving their best. For the ZOA to realize its full potential, employees must be treated fairly. Vote for Steve Goldberg to ensure the dedicated Zionists at ZOA can thrive. Learn more through this video.

 

ZOA Loses 501c3 Status Under Mort

On Sept. 11, the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) board of directors met in New York and overwhelmingly approved a resolution expressing confidence in the organization’s direction and in the leadership of Morton Klein, its president of 19 years.

The vote came less than a day after a news report that ZOA had had its tax-exempt status revoked as far back as May 2011 for failing to file three consecutive years of key financial documents with the Internal Revenue Service.

Only one board member present at the meeting, ZOA National Vice Chair Steven Goldberg, voted against the resolution. Goldberg, a Los Angeles resident, told the Journal that he believes ZOA’s loss of tax-exempt status points to larger problems with the 115-year-old educational and advocacy nonprofit. In an interview on Sept. 12, Goldberg insisted Klein must be replaced for the ZOA to move forward.

READ MORE IN THE JEWISH JOURNAL