Before he became the proponent of conspiracy theories, an anti-vaccine nut, a fake Democrat, and wanna be president of the United States Robert Kennedy Jr. had an actual job.
Kennedy was a president for years of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a 501 c3 that grew out of another organization called the Riverkeeper that still exists in upstate New York. The idea was to keep the Hudson River clean.
As recently as 2015-16, Kennedy was still making around $76,000 a year at the Riverkeeper, according to their Form 990 filing. The same year he appears to have overlapped as president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, making $200,000. (Waterkeeper, located in downtown Manhattan, is sort of the sexier version of Riverkeeper.)
That went on for four years. In 2020, his salary dropped to $95,000 plus another $16,000. (This is all from their tax filings.)
Starting in 2021, Kennedy’s name dropped off Waterkeeper’s tax filings. Kennedy’s replacement in 2021 as president of Waterkeeper is a little surprising: former “ER” actress Gloria Reuben. She had never before appeared on a list of directors or officers for Waterkeeper. Apart from “ER,” Reuben is famous for singing back up for Tina Turner on her last tour. She is also considered a long time close friend of Kennedy.
No salary is listed for Reuben, who is listed as working three hours a week as president according to the filing. But overall salaries at Waterkeeper jumped from $546,666 in 2021 to over $3.5 million in 2022. CEO Marc Yaggi was the top salary earner, with over $300,000. Five more executives earned six figure salaries. The rest of the $3.5 million in salaries isn’t specified, but keeping the water clean is expensive, you know!
All their other numbers increased in 2022 except Revenue Less Expenses, listed as MINUS $1.6 million. Net assets dropped from over $4 million to $2.6 million. This was despite a jump of $3.5 million in total revenue.
Waterkeeper says it doled out over $10 million in 2022 in grants and scholarships but almost all of that went to Latin America and the Caribbean — $9.7 million. None of that is delineated. Where did it go? The only specifics are given for 21 small donations to groups in the US that came to $586,707 — considerably less than total salaries paid to their execs, which came to $743,559.
Waterkeeper listed around $650,000 in 2022 for rent and office expenses. (They also list the usual miscellaneous, unspecified expenses bringing their 2022 total to $16.8 million.)
Curiously, Kennedy’s website makes no mention of Riverkeeper, just Waterkeeper (in passing). But he doesn’t include a way to donate to these causes which he says are so close to his heart.
(I called and emailed their CEO Marc Yaggi but he has not responded.)
By the way, after all that effort, can you swim in the Hudson River?
Waterfront Alliance (not Waterkeeper) says yes, but it doesn’t sound like much fun. Two of their warnings: not to swallow the water; and make sure to keep your head and face above water.