NAACP president questioned about chapter's finances

J. Whyatt Mondesire heads Phila. NAACP.
J. Whyatt Mondesire heads Phila. NAACP.
Posted: January 26, 2014

Three officers of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP are questioning whether its president, J. Whyatt Mondesire, has mismanaged the organization's money, and have asked the national organization to take control of the local chapter's finances.

They also called on the national organization to audit the local chapter's finances over the last 10 years, their lawyers said Friday.

The officers, political activist Donald "Ducky" Birts, restaurateur and nightclub owner Sydney Booker, and the Rev. Elisha Morris, are calling on Mondesire to answer wide-ranging questions about the chapter's finances.

In a letter to Mondesire dated Nov. 21, the three asked for information about a now-defunct nonprofit he headed called Next Generation Community Development Corp., and asked questions about its connection to the local chapter. The letter was first reported this week by the website AxisPhilly.

Mondesire could not be reached for comment Friday.

Some of the questions the officers raised focused on whether money from the national NAACP funneled through Next Generation before going to the Philadelphia chapter.

The tax-exempt status of Next Generation was revoked by the IRS in 2011, records show.

Through their lawyers, the officers said Mondesire had not answered their questions.

In a November petition, they asked the national organization, based in Baltimore, to take control of the local.

Lawyers for the three said it was not certain whether all the money raised by the local chapter was received by it.

They said they were also calling on the state Attorney General's Office to investigate the chapter's finances.

"We're in the process of contacting the attorney general and the leadership of the national headquarters regarding this matter," said Isaac H. Green Jr., who, along with Gerard Egan, a former federal prosecutor, is representing the three officers.

Several calls to Mondesire at the Philadelphia NAACP office, to his cellphone, and at the office of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, a newspaper he publishes, went unanswered on Friday. There also was no response to an e-mail sent to the newspaper office.

In an article posted on the Philadelphia Tribune's website Friday, Mondesire took aim at Birts, Booker, and Morris.

"The majority of the board here in Philadelphia has expressed complete support for our leadership," Mondesire was quoted as saying. "We had three meetings, of which those three characters were invited, and they never had the guts to show up, so they've decided to run to the news media to try to disparage my character rather than face the truth."

In a Dec. 26 letter to board members of the Philadelphia NAACP chapter, Mondesire wrote that "nothing has been taken from the NAACP and no NAACP money is missing." He referred to Birts, Booker, and Morris as a "gang of backstabbers" and "renegades."

The Rev. Gill Ford, national director for unit administration for the NAACP, said national headquarters was assessing the allegations. He said the local chapter was in compliance with the national organization's rules on financial reporting.

"Right now, the national office is looking into the matter because we have a concern whenever there are questions like this, because we do have a fiduciary responsibility," Ford said.

"We are also looking at the fact that the branch has, for the last 10 years, been compliant in filing their year-end financial reports pursuant to our bookkeeping guide and providing copies of their documentation, which includes bank statements." Ford said.

He suggested that the dispute between the officers and Mondesire could be personal. He said he planned to meet with all the parties within 30 days.

"At that point in time, people will have to put some valid information forward or it will become clear that this is strictly a personality thing," Ford said.


vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

Inquirer staff writer Mark Fazlollah contributed to this article.

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