Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest sorority for collegiate and professional black women, are asking a D.C. court to remove the group’s national leadership and order its president to return funds allegedly paid in contravention of the organization’s bylaws.Wow. What. A. Freakin'. Mess.
The group’s national president, Barbara McKinzie, has come under fire for a long list of alleged financial misdeeds. The most interesting of those allegations: The plaintiffs claim McKinzie used the organization’s money to commission a $900,000 “living legacy wax figure” of herself. McKinzie could not be reached for comment.
Most Washingtonians recall the organization’s centennial celebration last summer — downtown D.C. was swarmed by thousands of AKA members decked head to toe in pink and green. The event drew nearly 20,000 guests to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, setting a Guinness world record for the largest sit-down dinner in the history of conventions worldwide.
The event itself, though, is part of the controversy. The massive attendance — and a registration fee that was twice as high as it had been in prior years, $500 per person — generated significant surplus funds for the organization, the plaintiffs allege. The plaintiffs claim that McKinzie, with the approval of the group’s directors but without the approval of the overall membership, spent the surplus funds on McKinzie’s “pet projects,” including the wax figure, projects to help Liberian women, the Ford Museum and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History. The statue of McKinzie will be displayed at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, said Celeste Moy, an attorney at the firm representing the plaintiffs.
In addition, the plaintiffs took issue with McKinzie’s alleged misuse of a corporate credit card for personal expenses, a $375,000 lump sum payment McKinzie received, and a $4,000 monthly stipend McKinzie is to be paid for four years after she leaves office.
The group’s accounting and investment strategies are also under fire. According to the complaint, several of the deductions on the sorority’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns are “unreasonably large and inappropriate” and may “expose the organization to potential IRS claims and obligations.” The sorority is a non-profit organization incorporated under D.C. law. It also has a non-profit foundation that is incorporated in Illinois.
Under McKinzie’s leadership, AKA also shifted several million dollars of the sorority’s and the foundation’s funds from cash and cash equivalents to stock and bond investments — those investments have since plummeted in value, according to the complaint.
The organization has also allegedly spent more than $500,000 in legal fees in 2008 and 2009 for “actions against whistleblowers.”
Members who have voiced concerns over the alleged financial improprieties have had their membership privileges “withdrawn, suspended and otherwise adversely affected,” according to the complaint.
Question: Why do SOME black folks get a lil' title and lose their doggone minds?
Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha want sorority’s president fired [WashBizJournal]