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February 18, 2023

Executive Compensation at the Alliance Defending Freedom (2020)

by Anne Paddock

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) 3 that is described as a conservative  legal advocacy group that works to curtail rights of LGBTQ people while expanding “christian practices” in public schools and government (who serve all people), and to prevent access to a woman’s right to choose. How do they do this? Primarily through challenges in the legal system and taking on cases that further their mission and goals including the most recent case about a Colorado-based web page designer who “does not want to” (note:  she hasn’t been asked to) create wedding websites for gay couples.  Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, ADF “is committed to transforming law and culture so true freedom can flourish” which indicates that ADF has their own meaning of “true” as it applies to their beliefs and no others.  On their website, ADF states they are a “faith based 501c3 that legally defends the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty” and that they are the “world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family.” Really?  Sounds more like they are a tax-exempt organization committed to protecting their religious freedom, their free speech, and their design for marriage and family.

ADF has 8 independent voting members (directors) of its governing body although the website lists 9 directors (8 males and 1 female) and the Form 990 lists 10 (two are part-year).

In 2020, ADF reported total revenue of $65 million, most of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants ($63 million).  Expenses totaled $57 million (not including $2 million in depreciation) – 88% of revenue – with the largest expense reported to be compensation.  319 employees received $32 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $100,000 annually.  However, only 69 employees received more than $100,000 with the 15 most highly compensated reported to be:

  • $830,412:  Alan Sears, Founder (departed July 31, 2019)
  • $482,208:  Michael Farris, President and CEO
  • $303,634:  Wayne Swindler, EVP, Finance and Administration
  • $296,580:  Kristen Waggoner, General Counsel
  • $274,934:  Mark Crozet, SVP of Development (part year)
  • $273,331:  Tim Chandler, Sr Counsel
  • $260,017:  Brett Harvey, Sr Counsel, VP of Allied Legal Affairs
  • $246,749:  Lisa Reschetnikow, ADF Foundation Presi/Corp General Counsel
  • $243,461:  Jeffrey Ventrella, Sr Counsel, SVP of Training
  • $242,996:  David Cortman, Sr Counsel, VP of US Litigation 
  • $241,647:  Jeremy Tedesco, Sr Counsel, VP of US Advocacy
  • $228,363:  Gary McCaleb, Former Officer
  • $213,983:  Glen Lavy, Corporate Counsel
  • $190,745:  Tony Johnson, SVP of Operations and Direct Response
  • $184,393:  Lance Bauslaugh, SVP of Development

The 15 most highly compensated employees (13 males and 2 females) received $4.4 million in compensation.  

ADF paid for first class or charter travel, and companion travel.  See Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information for more detail.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending June 30, 2020), click here.

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