Feed The Children (FTC) is under fire again, this time by the short-lived CEO who leveled accusations about the board’s oversight in a lawsuit filed this week. Former Congressman J.C. Watts directed his concerns to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Public Protection Office in October weeks before a joint announcement that he would no longer be chief executive.
The seven-page complaint was filed in District Court of Oklahoma County and seeks a jury trial, $75,000 in damages as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees. The suit also names six members of the board of directors as defendants.
Watts contends that the board misrepresented the strength of Feed The Children, assuring him that “well-publicized problems of the past” had been corrected. The former Oklahoma football star was recruited to be president and CEO in November 2015, meeting with the board’s search committee, and ultimately accepting the position as of February 2016.
Shortly after joining Feed The Children, Watts said he discovered “many internal management and financial problems,” as well as irregularities and problems in operations. Several times he requested to meet with the board to discuss the issues to not avail, according to the lawsuit, so he detailed his concerns and requested a meeting in a Sept. 27, 2016 letter to the board.
When the board took no action on his concerns, Watts alerted the state Attorney General’s Office on Oct. 18 and informed board member Mike Hogan of his missive on Nov. 3. The next day, Watt was terminated after a special board meeting “in retaliation for making the allegations known to the AG and the FTC Board of Directors.”
An email and voicemail message seeking comment from Feed The Children officials have not been returned. In an email late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the organization said Feed The Children does not comment on pending lawsuits.
Among the concerns Watts alleged are:
- Failure by the board to perform due diligence and uphold fiduciary responsibilities,