Dem Candidate’s Compensation at Nonprofit Increased 86 Percent, Despite Several Years of Deficits

Kara Eastman / @karaforcongress Twitter

Kara Eastman, the progressive Democratic candidate in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, received an 86 percent increase in total compensation for her work at Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance between 2008 and 2016. The increased pay came despite the nonprofit recording hundreds of thousands of dollars in deficits during five of those eight fiscal years.

Eastman started OHKA in 2006 and has served as the president and CEO through present day, although she began a leave of absence in March 2018 to focus on her congressional campaign. She has however retained her position as president and CEO of the organization, stating on May 1 that she was "personally responsible for raising the money to make payroll deadlines."

The Democratic candidate has often touted her nonprofit for serving over 4,000 Nebraska families and being a "nationally recognized, award-winning nonprofit," but she doesn't mention her increased annual pay, which came despite the company running a deficit for 55 percent of her tenure, according to financial filings obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

OHKA did not run a deficit in the fiscal years 2006, 2009, and from 2010 to 2012. However, the nonprofit ran deficits as low as $151,865 in 2008 and as high as $553,658 in 2014. Other deficits include $466,495 in 2013, $553,320 in 2015, and $457,064 in 2016.

From 2007 to 2016, OHKA spent over 50 percent of its expenditures on employee salaries, benefits, and other compensation.

The nonprofit was formed in mid-2006, so Eastman's reportable compensation during that fiscal year was $25,677. It is unclear what Eastman's salary was in 2007, but it consistently increased every year from $64,856 in 2008 to $115,275 in 2016. On top of her salary, she received additional compensation from OHKA and "related organizations" ranging from $1,892 in 2008 to $8,782 in 2016.

Eastman's campaign responded to questions about her compensation amid the nonprofit's financial woes by saying the board set her salary.

"The board at Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance set the salary for Kara as a CEO, and was audited annually. Kara made a salary commiserate with her experience and the size of the organization. Kara did incredible things with Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance for Omaha's families, raising more than 13 million dollars and cleaning up hundreds of homes affected by lead poisoning," said Heather Aliano, Eastman's campaign communications director.

OHKA ran deficits every year between 2013 and 2016, but Eastman continued to receive pay increases as the president and CEO of the nonprofit. Her total compensation, including compensation from related organizations, was $97,752 in 2013, $102,938 in 2014, $109,026 in 2015 and $124,057 in 2016.

Eastman is challenging first-term Republican Rep. Don Bacon, who ran unopposed in his party primary.