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AIDS Walk Chair Resigns as Beneficiaries Await Checks

Chad West June 14, 2012

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer Three months after the South Dallas AIDS Walk, no accounting of the event’s finances has been released, but checks have been promised to beneficiaries. Auntjuan Wiley resigned as executive director of the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation, the lead agency for the AIDS Walk, on June 6, after Chisom failed to account for money collected during the March event and stopped returning phone calls. Wiley also resigned his position as chair of the AIDS Walk. Wiley, whose positions were unpaid, said he’s been asking Chisom for the financial reports for more than a month. 

After last year’s walk, Wiley said the event’s finances were reported in a timely manner. This year, he said he’s seen Chisom once and spoken to him on the phone just twice since the walk. They used to meet weekly. “Therefore, I’m resigning effective immediately,” he said.Wiley had been with the organization since August 2010. After Wiley resigned, Chisom contacted the beneficiaries of the walk and told them that checks would be sent this week. Chisom didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. As of press time, no checks had been received by the beneficiaries. Derrick Spillman of DFW Pride Movement, a beneficiary of the walk, said he’s spoken to Chisom twice since the walk and was told both times that figures were being finalized. 

Kirk Myers, founder and CEO of Abounding Prosperity, another beneficiary, said he participated in the AIDS Walk because his is the only AIDS organization based and located in South Dallas. Myers said he wanted community exposure but wasn’t looking for a large monetary return. He said that he saw things being done improperly from the beginning of his organization’s involvement. “They didn’t even have proper permits to walk in the street,” Myers said. Myers said he’s more concerned with an accounting of the walk than receiving a check. The week before the walk, Dallas Voice reported that the 501(c)(3) nonprofit status of the the Chisom Foundation had been revoked the previous year for failure to file required annual financial statements. Chisom told Wiley at the time that he had just discovered the reports had not been filed. He claimed an accountant who was supposed to file the paperwordk had disappeared and that he was working to restore the organization’s status. When it was revealed that the Anthony Chisom Foundation had lost its 501(c)(3) status, Myers said the AIDS Walk didn’t address it properly. “People needed to be notified that their donations would not be tax deductible,” he said. Myers said that Chisom has had plenty of time to release a full financial accounting of the event that he estimated grossed $15,000–$20,000. “If they had $20,000 in pennies, they could have counted it by now,” Myers said. Wiley said he stuck with the organization because of the beneficiaries after learning that the nonprofit status of the sponsoring organization had been revoked — because the walkers and sponsors were expecting the event to take place. Wiley said he had no access to the financials of either the foundation or the walk. However, he said he’s seen files from the foundation and estimates 100 people had been helped in the past two years by the Chisom Foundation. The Chisom Foundation provides temporary financial assistance to pay rent, utilities or transportation costs. But Wiley said he did not know where the money to make those small grants came from or how the organization was sustained. Wiley said he would like to reorganize the walk next year. He said Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn Davis suggested he rebrand it as AIDS Walk South Dallas and incorporate as a separate entity. Myers said that he’d like to see new leadership but thinks Wiley could continue to have some involvement in the event. Local attorney Chad West said unless money was stolen by someone at the Chisom Foundation, he doesn’t think anyone could be charged with criminal activity. A donor could sue the organization for misrepresenting itself as tax-exempt. However, a corporation that contributed to the walk could retain the tax exemption by writing the money off as advertising rather than as a donation. “A director who fails to maintain an organization’s tax exempt status may be liable to the organization for breach of fiduciary duty, a civil action,” West said, adding that a board member could bring action against Chisom. This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 15, 2012.

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