New Uproar at NAACP

October 05, 1994|By CARL T. ROWAN

WASHINGTON — Washington. -- Another angry outburst has arisen within the NAACP. This time it is over what some members call ''double-dipping'' expense reimbursements to Chairman William F. Gibson.

Furious insiders have provided me with NAACP and American Express documents and copies of checks made payable to Dr. Gibson that suggest the South Carolina dentist has used a credit card and received unexplained checks that have drained NAACP coffers of well over a half-million dollars since 1986.

Dr. Gibson told me yesterday that he can justify the American Express charges as well as the ''reimbursement'' checks that have averaged about $2,400 a month over eight years. He said he has been ''more careful with NAACP money then with my own.''

But his critics say that Dr. Gibson charged more than $100,000 to his NAACP credit card in 1993, then took more than $30,000 in checks as reimbursement for the same (or for non-existent) expenses. They tell me that they will ask the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether Dr. Gibson has ''evaded taxes'' while ''fleecing a poor civil-rights organization.''

The NAACP limps under a $3.5 million deficit. The Baltimore headquarters has decreed that employees there earning more than $22,000 a year must take a two-week, unpaid furlough before the end of this year. Some NAACP branches have had to postpone their annual fund-raising dinners because previous donors say they will not give until Dr. Gibson resigns. Pressure for his resignation is certain when the NAACP board meets next Thursday.

I have documents showing that Dr. Gibson used his American Express card to charge to the NAACP nearly $500,000 dollars since 1986. I have photocopies of checks showing that he also received at least $300,000 in ''reimbursements'' since he became chairman.

Dr. Gibson tells me that all the credit-card charges and the reimbursement checks were fully justified. Some of the checks carried a headquarters notation saying ''receipts to be provided,'' or ''Warning: the distribution no longer matches PO [purchase order] detail,'' a suggestion that the check writer had doubts about the legality of dispensing the money.

The chairman says that former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks told him in 1986 that ''an expense account for the chairman -- historically unsalaried -- was included within the budget for the board of directors.'' Mr. Hooks told me the board never approved payment of checks to Dr. Gibson for which no accounting was required.

One example of Dr. Gibson's conduct is his trip to Los Angeles to attend the NAACP Annual Convention in July 1990.

He stayed in the Biltmore Hotel in room 970, which cost the NAACP nothing. Yet he rolled up charges of $4,077.11 in 10 days, including 14 room-service charges on July 8 and 9 totaling $1,131.68. Dr. Gibson denies that he was extravagant, telling me that he had a security contingent of four people who had to eat, and that he had to entertain many official people who came to his room.

During that July, Dr. Gibson charged $8,030.36 to the NAACP on his American Express card, including at least $1,258 for air travel, $32 a day for parking and more than $600 for limousine service -- even though auto dealers had provided the NAACP with several free sedans.

Ten days after putting more than $8,000 on his credit card, on July 25 Dr. Gibson got an NAACP check for $2,800 for ''travel-expense reimbursement''; on September 4 he received another $2,800 check for ''office expenses''; three weeks later he got a check for $3,000 for ''travel-expense reimbursement''; on November 11 another check for $2,800, and on December 11 a $3,000 check that said only ''reimbursement.''

Dr. Gibson told me that the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of checks have been listed as ''income'' to his office and then used to partly pay his staff members who work part-time for the NAACP. He said he spent the unreceipted money for ''ground transportation, parking, answering mail, a part-time secretary, a part-time writer and a part-time scheduler.''

I asked about a $24,000 check of August 25, 1988, ostensibly for the South Carolina Conference of the NAACP, but made out to him personally. He said he did not remember receiving or signing any such check.

''Bad bookkeeping at the national headquarters is a real problem,'' Dr. Gibson said.

Perhaps. But I am sure of one thing: if Bill Gibson really cares about the NAACP and restoring its financial integrity, he will resign at the next board meeting.

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.