Jobs for Delaware Legislators
Nicole Poore was elected to the Senate in 2012. She became Majority Whip for 2017-2018 and Majority Leader for 2019-2020. She also served on the powerful Joint Finance Committee. She currently does not hold a leadership position.
Early in 2015 she accepted the position of President of Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG). In 2018, based on IRS 990 Forms, Poore’s total JDG compensation was $102,858. Those earnings are in addition to her Senate salary. She has not recused herself from voting on Grant in Aid nor on the budgets of state agencies which provide generous funding for her nonprofit agency.
Non-profit executives are generally expected to generate revenues through private fundraising. However, the analysis below indicates that JDG depends overwhelmingly on state funds. The percentage of funds from outside sources ranges from 2.5% to 5.6%.
JDG receives more Grant in Aid funding than any other non-profit. However, Grant in Aid (GIA) isn’t the only state funding available to non-profit agencies. Like PAL, JDG has benefited from funding arrangements with several state agencies. JDG was able to increase expenditures by almost $1 million the year Nicole Poore was hired.
There is a striking correlation between state agency funding allocated to JDG and Nicole Poore’s Senate Committee assignments which currently include Vice Chair of the Senate Labor Committee and Vice Chair of the Health and Social Services Committee. She formerly served on the Senate Education Committee. In recent years, JDG has received more than $15 million from DOE, DOL, TANF, and DSCYF.
The appropriateness of legislative leaders accepting lucrative nonprofit positions has been challenged by advocates, journalists and political blogs as representing an obvious and significant conflict of interest, but no official action has been taken.
Fertile Ground for Corruption
In 2013, the Center for Public Integrity published an article titled
“State Legislators Ties to Nonprofits Prove Fertile Ground for Corruption”. The article stated:
“Over the past few decades, state governments have increasingly outsourced many functions to community-based nonprofits in an attempt to provide more effective, flexible social services. But the result, some say, has been the creation of what is essentially another arm of government.
…in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. Meanwhile, feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.”
In response to a 2018 article in the Delaware State News which raised the conflict of interest issue, Senator Poore commented that, “she has talked to “four different attorneys” and all said it was OK to vote for the measure since it concerns funding for organizations other than just Jobs for Delaware Graduates.”
This is the “Honor System” at work. Senator Poore undertook her own review to determine appropriateness before accepting this $102,000 job. She may have four legal briefs in her files or she might have just talked to friends. The public will never know.
The conclusion from her personal legal team seems highly unusual. Of course, the budgets she helped craft in the Joint Finance Committee involve organizations other than Jobs for Delaware Graduates. Those trade offs are the heart of the issue. Did JDG get a larger slice of the budgetary pie?
Nicole Poore and Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG)
When people think of funding for nonprofits in Delaware, the initial focus is Grant in Aid (GIA). JDG receives more Grant in Aid funding than any other non-profit.
The chart below shows GIA funding for JDG from 2013 to 2021. The third column represents total GIA funding for nonprofits in the Disabled/Health/Labor category within the overall GIA budget.
Jobs for Delaware Graduates
In 2014, shortly before Nicole Poore was hired, the GIA funding for JDG increased by $350,000. The overall GIA budget for Disabled/Health/Labor increased by $530,521, but JDG got the lion’s share increasing its percentage of the category budget by 4.7%.
When hard times came for GIA in 2018, every agency took a hit, but the blow for JDG was cushioned somewhat because the agency gained 2% within the Disabled/Health/Labor category.
However, Grant in Aid (GIA) isn’t the only state funding available to non-profit agencies. Like PAL, JDG has benefited from funding arrangements with several state agencies as outlined in the chart below. The first six lines are totals from the Delaware State Online Checkbook which goes back to 2016 and shows the year-to-year funding combining GIA and funding from state agencies.
Jobs for Delaware Graduates
Revenue From DE State Online Checkbook (SOC)
|Revenue||FY 2016||FY 2017||FY 2018||FY 2019||FY 2020|
|Not in SOC||$115,794||$139,454||$189,561||$143,731||NA|
|% Not |
JDG funding from state agencies during this five-year period represents approximately two-thirds of the agency’s state funding with GIA making up the remainder. There is a striking correlation between state agency funding allocated to JDG and Nicole Poore’s Senate Committee assignments.
Poore was a member of the Senate Education Committee. JDG funding from the Department of Education (DOE) started in FY 2016 increasing to almost a million dollars in 2020 as presented on the above chart. JDG funding from DOE totaled $2,750,147 during this period.
Nicole Poore is currently Vice Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. JDG funding from DOL totaled $4.3 million during this same period. Poore is also Vice Chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee. The above data include $4.9 million in DHSS funds. The funding for JDG from DOE, DOL, DHHS and DSCYF total more than $12 million.
Non-profit executives are generally expected to generate revenues through private fundraising. However, the data in the above table indicates that JDG depends overwhelmingly on state funds. The line labeled “990 Total Revenue” comes from the IRS forms submitted by JDG and represents the agency’s total expenditures. Subtracting the state funds provided through the State Online Checkbook yields the remaining funds raised privately by JDG which range from only 2.5% to 5.6%.
Doubling Up on Executive Compensation
Every year nonprofit agencies submit publicly available 990 forms to the IRS. These forms indicate that Nicole Poor started drawing a salary from JDG during the second quarter of 2015.
According to an outdated Linked In profile, the prior President, Susanna Lee, had served since August 2000. Based on the 990 Form, in 2014 her salary was $106,606 and she was the only executive employed by JDG. In 2015, when Nicole Poore was hired as President, JDG also employed Dianne Jones as “Finance and HR Officer”. The agency went from having one top executive position to two, effectively doubling executive compensation . In FY 2018 and 2019, Ms. Jones actually earned slightly more than President Nicole Poore–$104,163 to $102,858 in 2019.
Most nonprofits filling a six-figure position would opt for a full time President. The JDG Board apparently saw value in hiring Nicole Poore although it necessitated hiring a second person to help run the agency.