Recently, local Portland media reported on the financial state of the NAACP Portland Branch. These stories were considered newsworthy because former branch president, Jo Ann Hardesty, is a current candidate for Portland City Commissioner, position #2. The initial story was based on public financial reports to the state and federal government. A later story added details from an internal document that was inappropriately released to the press by an unknown person. The Executive Committee of the NAACP Portland Branch wishes to address the release of these documents and reassure the membership and the community as to the integrity of our organization, which has been harmed for political gain.
The NAACP Portland Branch is a 104-year-old civil rights organization, dedicated to the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminating racial hatred and discrimination in all its forms. Our branch is a 501(c)4 nonprofit, while the national organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. This distinction and the relationship between national and the branches is important to understanding how certain legal documents are filed. In the case of financial reports, the branches are to complete an annual report to national, and national submits a single 990 tax return that covers all the branches. Branches are responsible for submitting any state or local tax returns. Because the 2016 report was not submitted to national, a separate 990 has been completed and submitted that to the IRS, as described in the 2018 Bookkeeping Guide from NAACP national. State CT-12 tax forms for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been completed or are in the process of being amended.
In addition to official financial reports, which are public information, private communication between the bookkeeper contracted by the branch to help with recordkeeping and the Executive and Finance Committees was released to the media through an unknown source. We denounce this violation of trust and procedure in the strongest terms. The Assessment of Recordkeeping, dated July 3, served as a private document between the bookkeeper and NAACP Portland Branch This document was not to be released to anyone other than the Executive and Finance Committees without the express authority of the NAACP Portland Branch president. Members who undertake to volunteer with the organization, particularly in sensitive areas, are expected to have the organization’s best interests in mind. We are collectively dismayed at this betrayal of trust, and appalled at the thought that anyone would impugn the reputation of any organization dedicated to the betterment of marginalized or disenfranchised communities. To do so for personal political discord is an egregious violation of organizational ethics, as well as the national NAACP bylaws.
We wish to correct an error in one of the tax returns. The initial tax returns suggested that Ms. Hardesty was issued a stipend in 2016 of $3,300 and in 2017 of $3,600, and that she was not informed of her requirement to pay taxes on the stipend. It was discovered after further investigation that no payments were made in 2016, and $3300 was paid in 2017. The executive committee voted in February of 2017 to pay the president a $300 per month stipend. We regret that Ms. Hardesty was not informed of the tax implications of the stipend. We are in the process of amending the State of Oregon reporting forms to reflect these corrections.
Today our branch is a strong organization and continues to grow daily, resting on the foundation that Ms. Hardesty laid in the three-plus years she was the president. When she was elected, the branch was on life-support, despite being the oldest continually chartered branch west of the Mississippi. Ms. Hardesty built the membership and developed solid fundraising, growing the branch revenues from $12,362 in 2015, to $33,252 in 2016 and $48,304 in 2017. As a volunteer organization, the NAACP relies on community members to step in to work on committees that do the day-to-day work, including the important elected positions of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, the last of which has persistently been difficult to fill. The office of treasurer has numerous critical responsibilities, which is why the board voted in April 2018 to contract with a bookkeeper going forward. We are in the process of drafting standard operating procedures in accordance with the national bookkeeping standards and best accounting practices.
- Annual reports to national were completed in 2015 and 2016. However, the 2016report was not signed by the treasurer at the time and could not be submitted.The 2017 report is completed in 2018 and has been submitted to national.
- 990 forms are completed by NAACP national and normally are not submitted bythe local branch. Since we are in catch-up mode, the 990 forms completed by ourbranch will be made available on the website.
- State CT-12 forms will be made available on the website.Sincerely,E.D. Mondaine, President NAACP Portland Branch