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NHPR Filed Inaccurate Tax Documents, Says Former CEO Payout Was Not for Consulting Work

A $374,848 payout to New Hampshire Public Radio’s former executive director is mislabeled on the public broadcaster’s recently released tax forms.

The station’s Board of Trustees said the payments to Betsy Gardella, who is described as a consultant on the station’s 990 tax form, were incorrectly disclosed.

“Betsy Gardella was not contracted or paid to do any consulting work in calendar year 2019.  Any location on the FY20 990 tax form where Gardella was listed as consultant/employee was in error,” said Susan Zankel, head of the Board of Trustees, when asked about the details of the consulting work. 

Zankel added that the non-profit is “checking with auditors to see if we need to correct this status in the 990.” 

Gardella led NHPR from 2005 until 2018, when she retired following an outside investigation that raised concerns about the station’s management. The Board said her departure was unrelated to the investigation, which didn’t reveal any financial wrongdoing. 

The payout, which hadn’t been previously acknowledged to the station’s staff until last week, was the result of a negotiated settlement that included 10 months of Gardella’s salary along with 13 years of deferred compensation, according to Zankel.

She clarified that the payments were made out of the station’s general funds.

A spokesperson for the Charitable Trusts Unit, a division of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office that regulates nonprofits, said it “processes every annual report it receives and in so doing, checks several financial entries.” The agency spokesperson said “we will review the updated 990 when it is submitted to this office,” but didn’t provide any additional information. 

The tax documents show that the station spent just under $610,000 on executive payouts in 2019, the latest year for which documents are available. Along with Gardella’s compensation, the station paid interim CEO Mark Kaplan $170,120, while Jim Schachter, who took over as CEO in October 2019, received $57,653 in total reportable compensation. 

NHPR generated roughly $8 million in revenue in the recent fiscal year, a combination of donations from its audience, corporate underwriting, grants and other revenue sources. The payouts to Gardella “do not have a material effect on NHPR’s finances going forward,” Zankel told staff.  

NOTE: NHPR Managing Editor Cori Princell edited this story with help from John Dankosky of the Connecticut Mirror. No other NHPR staff or leadership had oversight or reviewed the story before publication.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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