Museum boosters probed – Two investigations launched

The booster group for the N.C. Museum of History is the target of two investigations into its spending and accounting practices, The News & Observer in Raleigh reports.

The group also has agreed to end long-standing arrangements that benefited its boss, the newspaper says.

The probes and cutoff of perks were triggered by disclosures about the group in the newspaper Sunday.

The N&O reported that Eve Williamson, executive director of the Museum of History Associates, enjoyed unusual deals.

The group, for example, paid for a $7,500 painting that features members of her family and has been at her home on Figure Eight Island for nine months.

The group also leases a Lexus for Williamson, who contributes only $1,700 of the $7,800 annual costs.

And Williamson has racked up one million frequent-flier miles for business and personal use through an Associates’ staff  credit card in her name.

Betty Ray McCain, state cultural resources secretary, told the News & Observer that the state will begin an investigation of the board’s structure and spending after the associates complete an internal investigation.

She also said Williamson has been told to return the painting and will be asked to contribute more for the Lexus. The Associates also may lease a less expensive car, McCain said.

She also said the staff credit card will no longer be in Williamson’s name.

Williamson and Judy Hoyt, president of the Associates’ volunteer board, both declined.

The News & Observer also reported Sunday that the Associates paid for wedding presents valued at $500 each for three employees, for baby-sitting for Williamson’s grandchildren and for “test” dinners at her vacation home.

Larry Wheeler, director of the N.C. Museum of Art, told the N&O that the history museum should create a nonprofit foundation to control money raised by the Associates.

Without changes, he said, the museum will not be able to hire a  strong director to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of James McNutt, who has said the Associates contributed only 3 percent of their annual budget to the museum last year.

McNutt estimates the 1998-99 contribution, after expenses, at $56,000.

The Associates say its entire $2 million budget should be counted as a contribution.

 Newspaper disclosures about spending and accounting practices at the booster group for the N.C. Museum of History have triggered two investigations into the group.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.