Simon firm drew above average fee from nonprofit

The Associated Press
Saturday June 01, 2002

xSAN FRANCISCO — GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon’s investment firm drew an above-average commission for overseeing the assets of his family’s nonprofit foundation, a newspaper reported Friday. 

The nonprofit’s tax forms show that William E. Simon & Sons charged $670,000 in fees to oversee an average $10.9 million in foundation assets in 2000, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday in its “Lazarus at Large” business column. That amounts to a 6.1 percent commission. 

The industry standard for a fund that size, according to independent money managers and accountants interviewed by the Chronicle, is about 1 percent. 

Simon spokesman Jeff Flint said the fee was high because Simon & Sons handles both investment management and administrative costs, including the salaries of six employees. He said the fee was reasonable in light of the $7.5 million in donations made by the William E. Simon Foundation in 2000. 

“Any characterization that the foundation was somehow enriching Bill is totally untrue,” Flint said. 

Simon has refused to release his personal tax returns, but the returns of nonprofit organizations are public documents. 

Money managers and accountants with experience in the field said the $670,000 paid to Simon & Sons was unusually high. 

“Does it really take (several) people to give away $7.5 million?” Ken Winans, a Novato money manager, asked the Chronicle. “It’s not like they gave away $700 million. I have a hard time believing it cost $670,000 to deal with a portfolio that size.” Flint said Friday that only $20,000 of the sum was for asset management. He said the remainder was for reimbursement of expenses to Simon & Sons, and the bulk of that — $442,000 — went to pay employee salaries, bonuses, benefits and payroll taxes.