A planned fundraiser for Wyclef Jean's charity in 2006 was canceled in part because Jean's personal $100,000 performance fee made the event too expensive, according to internal e-mails and a source familiar with the event.
In 2006, a representative of FXB International, a French charity, approached Yele Haiti about co-sponsoring a benefit concert to raise funds to build a new school and community center in the village of Lasere, Jean's hometown. The event, which the organizers hoped would raise $150,000, was to be held at Sunset Beach, Andre Belazs' Shelter Island Hotel in August 2006; Jean was to perform.
According to this e-mail, obtained by Gawker from someone who was not one of its original recipients, Yele president Hugh Locke laid out Jean's personal fee for performing as $100,000, with an additional $15,000 slated to pay his band and production costs:
Subject: Hamptons on Aug 4
Date: June 21, 2006 6:12:33 PM EDT
We are set to go with Friday, August 4th for Wyclef to perform. Just want to check on the "deal":
- performance fee to Wyclef of $100,000 paid via Platinum Sound
- costs for band separate, probably in the $15,000 range (fees, equipment, etc.) to be paid to Platinum Sound
- $150,000 guaranteed net from the evening to be earmarked for Wyclef's home town of Lasere using the FXB model, but with this money going through Yele Haiti (and identified as a joint initiative with FXB) with no admin overhead to Yele… straight to Lasere
- the Lasere project to include building a new k to grade 9 school combined with a Yele Center, as well as a basketball court that the community can also use as income generator because they can charge for attendance
- net above the $150,000 to go to Yele as un-earmarked contribution.
HUGH LOCKE, partner and co-founder
Orsa Consultants managing the projects of Yéle Haiti
USA: 914 944-xxxx / cell: 917 859 xxxx
HAITI: cell: 509 457 xxxx
According to someone familiar with Yele, the event never ended up happening because it got "too expensive" to produce, in part because of Jean's fee.
Yele, which stands to raise millions from tonight's Hope for Haiti telethon and has been raising a reported $1 million a day through text donations since the earthquake, has been under fire over tax returns showing that the charity repeatedly directed funds to Jean and his business interests—including a $100,000 performance fee to Jean's production company Platinum Sounds for a 2006 fundraising concert in Monte Carlo. Locke has defended that payment by claiming that it covered "production costs" for the show, including payments for the band, and that Jean's fee was only $25,000.
The e-mail, written by Locke, clearly shows that Jean was seeking a $100,000 fee for himself in 2006, and that band members and "equipment etc" were to be paid with an additional $15,000. According to tax experts quotes by the Associated Press, there is nothing illegal about charities paying their own board members for services as long as they are not above market rate. As the Smoking Gun reported earlier this month, in 2002 Jean's going rate for a performance was $40,000.
A publicist for Yele Haiti did not immediately return a request for comment. This afternoon, Locke announced that Yele was hiring new accountants to help it avoid repeating its past "mistakes," including failing to file tax returns for three years.