NCRP Calls for Investigation of Otto Bremer Foundation

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has requested that the Internal Revenue Service investigate the activities of the board of the Otto Bremer Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota, in response to what NCRP describes as the "ongoing suspicious, and potentially illegal, behavior" of the foundation's three trustees.

In a letter to Tamera L. Ripperda, director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations division, NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman raised concerns that the trustees had pushed out the foundation's executive director, Randi Roth, who told Minnesota Public Radio that the trustees planned to install themselves as co-CEOs of the foundation. In his letter, Dorfman also noted that over the last ten years trustee compensation had increased 1,000 percent and that, in 2013 alone, the trustees had approved more than $1.2 million in compensation for themselves. "The new management structure," Dorfman wrote, "gives complete oversight and fiduciary control to the three individuals and completely removes accountability."

The foundation owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank, and the trustees also receive payment from that institution.

The foundation issued a statement in response to Dorfman's letter dismissing the allegations. "We are very comfortable with the way our foundation is structured and has operated since 1944 for the benefit of the communities we serve," said the statement, which was released by a communication specialist hired by the foundation.

In June, NCRP called for an investigation by the Minnesota attorney general's office, which has not confirmed that such an investigation will occur.