Gibson says he won't block demand for audit of spending

October 14, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The NAACP's embattled chairman of the board said yesterday that he wouldn't try to block any move by board members to demand an outside audit of his spending when they meet in Baltimore tomorrow.

Dr. William F. Gibson, a Greenville, S.C., dentist, has been accused of taking reimbursement for thousands of dollars in expenses that he had already charged to an NAACP credit card. Syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan has reported that internal NAACP documents show "double-dipping."

Dr. Gibson, 62, who denies the allegations, said in an interview that he has a reputation for incorruptibility and welcomes an audit of all NAACP officers.

The 64-member board is to hold its regular October meeting at NAACP headquarters in Northwest Baltimore.

"If I really wanted to make money out of civil rights . . . I could have made money the bad way," said Dr. Gibson, who has been NAACP chairman since 1985. "I have a reputation across this nation that nobody would attempt to bribe Bill Gibson. I can look anybody in the eye, stand on any courthouse step, or the White House, and say nobody can buy me."

NAACP sources said that it was unlikely that Dr. Gibson's critics on the board would have the strength to seek his ouster but that they might seek an audit or try to curb his powers.

The NAACP board's 16-member executive committee has expressed its support of Dr. Gibson, and the chairman said he believes he enjoys the board's confidence.

"I still think they respect me as a leader," he said. "I think they still respect my integrity and they still feel I am the individual at this point in time to be chairman of the board."

Dr. Gibson said he has not decided whether to seek re-election as chairman, an unpaid position, in February.

The chairman said he couldn't "verify" whether he had charged $500,000 in travel expenses to the NAACP since 1986, as Mr. Rowan reported. But he said his trips enabled the NAACP to reach agreements on corporate hiring and promotion of blacks; to open centers that help black businesses get capital, and to raise funds for other worthy programs.

Last year alone, the chairman said, he spent 100 work days, plus many weekends, on NAACP business -- to the detriment of his dental practice, which he said has been halved since 1985.

Dr. Gibson spoke after a news conference in which the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of 205 African-American newspapers, announced it would contribute at least $300,000 of free advertising space to promote a national NAACP membership drive.

Robert W. Bogle, president of the trade association, condemned what he called "smear tactics" and "irresponsible" reporting about the NAACP in the white-owned press. But he said his group's role was to support the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group, not "to weed out what is good or bad about the leadership of the NAACP."

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