Fred Meister hasn't headed the Distilled Spirits Council for over a decade. Donald Ogilvie left his post as CEO of the American Bankers Association in 2005. Former Motion Picture Association of America chief Jack Valenti is dead.
Still, years after they left the corner office, Meister, Ogilvie, and other (literally) departed association CEOs receive -- or will receive -- pay. In their most recent Form 990 tax returns, the spirits council reported shelling out almost $1.9 million in compensation to Meister, and the ABA gave more than $1 million to Ogilvie. The MPAA disclosed paying almost $1.4 million in compensation to the estate of longtime association President Valenti, who retired from the group in 2004 and died in 2007.
Charles Tate, managing partner at the accounting firm Tate & Tryon, said that payments to long-gone CEOs are most likely deferred compensation under retirement plans.
Compensation to former leaders isn't always deferred pay. Jordan Cohen, former head of the Association of American Medical Colleges, received a loan of more than $1 million against the cash value of his life insurance policy, according to the group's 990. Cohen, who left the group in 2006, also received nearly $500,000 in compensation in 2008.
And even short-timers can collect longer-term pay. The American Forest & Paper Association, which took in $35 million in revenue, reported $485,000 in compensation paid to former head Juanita Duggan in 2008. Duggan joined the group in late 2006, and she departed unexpectedly in May 2007.
Why the half-million-dollar post-employment payout? Using some cryptic language on the 990, the association explained it this way: "President resigned and received a severance payment approved by the board of directors as a resultant of a valuation of reasonable severance based on various attributes." That settles it.