Feed The Children Paid $1.87 Million To Settle CEO Dispute

Feed the Children paid $1.87 million to former Congressman Julius Caesar “J.C.” Watts, Jr. as part of a settlement stemming from his brief tenure as CEO five years ago.

The settlement was reached in July 2019 — the beginning of the fiscal year that ended June 2020. Feed the Children’s 289-page Form 990 for that fiscal year was filed this past March. Included in the notes to the annual tax form’s section on compensation was the statement: “Per the terms of a settlement, payments were made that were treated as reportable income to J.C. Watts, Jr., totaling $1.87 million, and are included in other reportable compensation on Schedule J, Part II.”

The settlement was nearly five times the compensation of the charity’s highest-paid employee last year. CEO Travis Arnold earned total compensation of $376,823, including base compensation of $355,113. Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Feed The Children reported total revenue of $466 million for the year ending June 2020, including almost $418 million in noncash contributions.

A former quarterback at Oklahoma University, Watts served in Congress from 1995 to 2003, representing the state’s 4th Congressional District. After retiring from Congress, he founded J.C. Watts Companies, a Washington, D.C-based lobbying and consulting firm.

In February 2016, Watts succeeded Kevin Hagan, who left to become CEO of the American Diabetes Association. By November, Feed the Children announced that he would no longer be president and CEO. Watts sued the organization seeking $75,000 in damages, plus punitive damages and attorney fees.

Watts, 63, contended that his termination was in retaliation for making allegations to the state attorney general and Federal Trade Commission. He claimed to have discovered “internal management and financial problems” after becoming CEO. Feed the Children’s board of directors countersued, responding that Watts was fired for insubordinate, dishonest and improper conduct, misrepresenting his fundraising abilities. Watts had agreed to work for the charity for three years, at an annual salary of $300,000, according to The Oklahoman.

A Feed the Children spokesperson declined comment other than to refer to the Form 990 for details on the settlement. Telephone messages left at JC Watts Companies seeking comment were not returned.