Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, Inc. (NAN), has suspended the entire executive board of the Atlanta chapter after allegations of financial mismanagement.
“Effective immediately, the entire NAN Atlanta Chapter Executive Board (all officers) are (is) indefinitely suspended,” Sharpton stated.
The suspension was issued via an email communique to the executive committee Monday. Sharpton’s email states the suspension is indefinite and ordered the board to meet him at the NAN southeast regional office in Atlanta on May 21, where he will meet with the board for 15 minutes before meeting with the general membership.
Allegations of financial mismanagement first surfaced in July 2012 when the chapter president, Marcus Coleman, decided to open a bank account separate from the national organization’s bank account the local chapter had been using for several years. This account was opened in June 2012.
The Atlanta Chapter, as an affiliate of NAN, is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization which is engaged in civil rights activities. However, when Coleman opened the account he opened it in the name of Marcus Coleman and National Action Network, according to former Vice President of the chapter, Rev. Vizion Jones.
Coleman allegedly opened the account with funds raised during a voter education program NAN held at a local church. According to treasurer records this event collected $749.00 in an offering, but the church presided over by Rev. Gerald Durley, a mentor of Coleman's, charged the group $300 to host the event.
In August 2012, the treasurer brought to the executive committee’s attention that Coleman was going into the bank and withdrawing funds using counter checks. This practice is prohibited by the executive committee’s rules and procedures.
According to Jones, Mr. Coleman was asked to refrain from using this procedure and to submit a requisition when he needed to spend money on behalf of the organization.
This practice did not stop. The committee then sent representatives to the bank and asked them not to allow Coleman to withdraw money from the account without the check being signed by the treasurer in addition to Coleman’s signature.
The bank informed the committee the account was opened as a business account and they were not aware the organization was a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation. Because of the manner in which the account was set up, the bank could not prohibit Coleman from presenting counter checks to withdraw funds.
In August 2012, Jones stated he took from Coleman a bank card issued to Coleman when Coleman opened the account. Jones then submitted a report to Sharpton in the national headquarters detailing the allegations of financial mismanagement against Coleman and requested an audit of the chapter’s books.
NAN responded by immediately removing Jones from the board, citing Jones had gone into Tennessee to help Michael Mathis fight a criminal charge in violation of the jurisdiction of the Atlanta Chapter’s charter.
Subsequently, Jones -- a lifetime member of NAN -- was told by Deymey Byam, representing Sharpton, that he was no longer a member of NAN. This is contrary to the by-laws of NAN which affords a person due process before being removed from the organization. Jones did not fight his ouster and has had no dealings with the organization since August 2012.
Although Sharpton and the national leadership had known of the inappropriate banking relation, this matter did not come to a head until this month when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent a letter requesting financial information.
Sources tell us that a whistleblower tipped off the IRS on the nature of the local chapter’s bank account. This prompted Sharpton to write to the board and say, “It has been brought to the attention of the National Action Network (NAN) National Board of Directors and me that members of the NAN Atlanta Chapter were involved in conduct that raises questions to their fitness to serve in a leadership role within NAN’s Chapter.”
If you like to write about US politics, enter Allvoices’ "The American Pundit" political writing contest. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and Nov. 30. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded in December. If you do not already have a free account, sign up here.
The American Pundit on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmericanPundits
Allvoices on Twitter: https://twitter.com/allvoices
Allvoices on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freelance.journalism