NAACP chairman denies alleged misuse of funds

October 05, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Sandy Banisky and Michael A. Fletcher contributed to this article.

Six weeks after the firing of its executive director, the deficit-ridden NAACP is again under attack for alleged misuse of funds, with Chairman William F. Gibson the target.

Syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan quotes unnamed sources as accusing the board chairman of "double-dipping" thousands of dollars in expense reimbursements from the Baltimore-based civil rights group. The column appears today in The Sun.

"That's a lie," Dr. Gibson said last night from his Greenville, S.C., office. "I know I have done no wrong in relation to utilizing the limited resources of this organization."

Dr. Gibson, 62, a dentist who has been chairman of the nation's largest civil rights group since 1985, said he would welcome an internal audit. The 64-member board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to meet Oct. 15 in Baltimore to review its $3.5 million deficit.

"It's tragic that an individual such as Mr. Rowan would take half-truths and lies and misstatements and misinterpretations and come to the conclusion he has apparently come to in his article," Dr. Gibson said.

Mr. Rowan said that Dr. Gibson should resign for the good of the NAACP. He had previously called on the chairman to quit during the controversy that ended with the board's firing of then-Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. on Aug. 20.

NAACP board members expressed surprise at the allegations that Dr. Gibson may have "double-dipped" by being reimbursed for expenses that he had already charged to an NAACP credit card.

Joseph E. Madison, a Gibson critic and Washington talk show host, said: "At minimum, there has to be an independent audit of his office, and it ought to examine everything. The integrity of the association is at stake."

Dr. Charles M. Butler, a board member from Coatesville, Pa., said: "I'm sure the majority of board members are going to want to deal with this if it is true. . . . The chairman of a board naturally has to spend some money traveling, but to double-dip is unconscionable, if it occurred."

But Franklin E. Breckenridge, a Gibson ally from Elkhart, Ind., said he believed "about 2 percent of what

I read in newspapers. . . . I think the media does itself a great disservice when it writes articles like this."

Thomas Turner, a Detroit board member, called the suggestion of double-dipping a "very negative and unfair statement."

Earl T. Shinhoster, the NAACP's interim senior administrator in the wake of Dr. Chavis' ouster, said he had "never heard any allegation of any kind of impropriety, financial or otherwise, on the part of Dr. Gibson."

He said the NAACP was completing an internal audit of the Chavis administration, which was to be presented at the coming board meeting.

Dr. Gibson said that he didn't know whether he had charged nearly $500,000 in travel expenses since 1986, including $100,000 in 1993 alone, to his NAACP credit card, as Mr. Rowan stated. He said 1993 was a busy year, with the search that led to Dr. Chavis' selection and subsequent travel with the new executive director.

"Any travel I've done, I've done for the NAACP, and it's legitimate," he said. "I am called for more meetings than any position except executive director."

Dr. Gibson said that, faced with the NAACP's large deficit, he stopped accepting reimbursement for office expenses in July and cut back travel. He said he had not spent excessively during his years as chairman.

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