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Austin-Based Southwest Key Will Do 'Internal Review' After New York Times Investigation

Dr. Juan Sanchez is the CEO of the East Austin charity Southwest Key.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
Dr. Juan Sanchez is the CEO of the East Austin charity Southwest Key.

The Austin-based nonprofit that houses more migrant children than any other organization in the country plans to hire an independent attorney who will conduct a "comprehensive internal review" of issues outlined in an investigative story by The New York Times.

Among the issues the  Times highlighted was Southwest Key's practice of creating a network of for-profit companies that are hired by the nonprofit to provide services ranging from construction to food services. This allowed Southwest Key to move money back to the charity, helping it get around government limits on executive pay,  The Times reported.

Southwest Key CEO Juan Sánchez said in a statement that while he was disappointed the story "failed to highlight the good work we do," he said it raised "a number of issues that are of concern to me." 

Sánchez's $1.5 million salary is double that of his counterpart at the American Red Cross, a much larger organization. His wife, Jennifer Sánchez, earned $500,000 as a vice president at Southwest Key, The Times reported.

The newspaper also reported that Sánchez was a silent partner in the ownership of a shelter in Conroe that Southwest Key rents. Two days after Southwest Key was approached with this information by The Times, the nonprofit organization disclosed it publicly, and a few weeks later, announced Sánchez intended to sell his stake. 

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Nathan Bernier a KUT reporter and the local host during All Things Considered and Marketplace. He grew up in the small mountain town of Nelson, BC, Canada, and worked at commercial news radio stations in Ottawa, Montreal and Boston before starting at KUT in 2008.