Money Mishandling

By: Paul Aker
By: Paul Aker

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A Wichita non-profit organization grapples with internal complaints that it's "mishandling" public dollars.

The Kansas Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation called an emergency board meeting Friday in response to a KAKE On Your Side investigation.

KAKE On Your Side has uncovered what some insiders say are discrepancies -- discrepancies in the way the foundation has used fundraising dollars.

Some foundation volunteers, ex-employees and several board members all want to know where the money goes and why the foundation is not, in their opinions, living up to its commitment to the community.

At the emergency meeting, more troubles surface for the Kansas Arthritis Foundation

This afternoon, board member Rick Shannon quit. He resigned in frustration saying quote: "I'm tired of beating a dead horse...to be totally honest its a failure of an entire organization." Later he said, "I question the money in the bank."

The resignation is just the latest in a steady stream. At least 6 employees have quit the foundation in the past year or so, and at least five board members have resigned.

In response, President of the Kansas Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation Doris Newman said, "I am not a direct aid organization."

Many of the people who resigned tell KAKE On Your Side they believe Newman mismanages the foundation and its funds. Key former employees and even some current board members say money for programs advertised for local causes including last year's Heroes Campaign for Kids, goes to administrative costs. They also say its being banked and just flat not being spent as it should. We asked Newman about the accusations.

"You have to keep control of what you spend and how you do it but you also have to care about the people you care about. And we care about the people with arthritis," Newman said.

But critics counter, saying that concern does not translate into dollars being spent on many who need it most.

After Friday's meeting, Board Chairman Paul Fowler told reporters the board will look for ways to improve the organization, but insisted things are managed appropriately.

"Nothing's in question. We've been in operation over 40 years and there's absolutely no problem," Fowler said.

But the foundation also faces serious questions about the way its raising money.

Chapter President Newman says much of the board still supports her. She also says the problems have been brought on by a former employee who wanted her job.


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