You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Union Club subject of new state investigation

Attorney general wants answers from Springfield group.


A well-known local social club has until Oct. 4 to deliver a list of documents to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as part of a new investigation by the state into alleged financial issues.

The letter sent late last week to trustees of the Union Club of Springfield — an organization whose charitable giving and vast membership during the course of 80 years have made it a Clark County institution — marks the third time this year that DeWine’s office has ordered the club to take action.

Topping the list of required records the state wants is a “detailed explanation,” supported by documentation and board meeting minutes, about why $260,479 of club money was transferred to three individuals back in February the day before trustees being ousted by DeWine left office.

The Union Club, 139 W. High St., gives thousands annually in local scholarships with money made from a tear-off bingo operation that’s among the most profitable in Ohio.

Last year, state records show, the club turned a $665,132 profit on $3.1 million in gross revenue, ranking it among the five most lucrative charitable gaming sites in Ohio.

With that comes a strict set of rules about how an organization can use money raised in the name of charity.

In February, DeWine cleaned house and ordered an emergency election after finding that the former Union Club trustees allegedly breached their fiduciary duties and violated state law by operating slot machines, the latter of which also violated an earlier settlement agreement with the state.

In addition, DeWine split the Union Club into two organizations — one to oversee charitable giving and one to manage the social club and its bar — each with seven new trustees.

In its latest look at the club, the state also wants an explanation of why a nearly $109,000 dividend from an investment account wasn’t recorded on the club’s books; why the social club’s operating account was on the general ledger of the charity; why the charity loaned $10,000 to the social club and who approved it; and an explanation of a $950,000 receivable on the charity’s books and how that money was used, among other items.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Jerry Numbers, president of the Union Club charity, said Monday.

Previously, Numbers has said that while the $260,479 transferred the day before the election looked “funny,” it was properly done as part of a deferred compensation plan for three retired club employees.

He said he was unsure why DeWine’s office “all of a sudden” would want information after ordering the club late this summer to conduct a full audit by Jan. 30.

Despite the new request for records, the club must still complete an audit by Jan. 30, according to Dan Tierney, DeWine’s spokesman.

As of February, the club held $3.6 million in total assets.

“Hopefully, they’ll figure it all out,” Numbers said of the club’s attorney and recently hired accounting firm.

The club’s Columbus attorney, Donald C. Brey, is out of the country on vacation, his assistant said Monday.

Robert “Flash” Whitaker, who won office in February as a trustee of the Union Club charity on the promise of reform, believes the state is on the right path with its latest inquiry.

“This could be the best charitable club in the country,” Whitaker said. “I hope that investigator jumps into it.”

Whitaker, however, was suspended earlier this month from the club for 30 days, he believes, for efforts to get the club back in the good graces of the state and to become more transparent to its 4,000 members.

In June, Whitaker and fellow trustees Harold Pounds and Larry Vince filed a motion in court to force the club to complete the audit that wasn’t proceeding.

Whitaker, Pounds and Vince withdrew that motion after the state ordered an audit by Jan. 30, according to their attorney, Dan Harkins.

Whitaker, the charity’s vice president, was suspended on Sept. 3, a Union Club letter stated, for actions detrimental “to the members and survival of this club.”

“For Flash to continuously bother the state with letters and phone calls it is not doing the members of this club nor the trustees any good,” that letter also stated. “He is costing the club an enormous amount of money and time that could be spent on the members and betterment of the club.”

“Our job as a trustee is to report any wrongdoing to the AG,” Whitaker said. “I’m being condemned for it.”

The day after his suspension, Whitaker, along with Pounds and Vince, sent a letter to DeWine’s office alleging that charitable funds are propping up the bar and its employees’ salaries, and that the state’s order of an audit spanning Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2012, wouldn’t address areas of concern that occurred later.

Bobby Shaffer, the trustee who manages the Union Club bar, said he didn’t want to answer questions Monday about the social club’s finances.

Whitaker, who’s been threatened with indefinite suspension, said he’s seen little change at the Union Club despite the influx of new trustees.

“Really, it’s run the same way,” he said. “They have no records. The members have no idea what they’re making, what they’re spending. And it’s all a secret. I’m not supposed to know. And I’m a trustee.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Springfield students tackle invasive plants, other community projects
Springfield students tackle invasive plants, other community projects

A Springfield school helped cut down an invasive plant species in the city as part of a day of service. Honeysuckle is considered a threatening plant said LeAnn Castillo, the Executive Director of National Trails Parks and Recreation District to local wildflowers and plants. The plant was introduced to the United States as an ornamental plant for gardens...
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast

  Katharine, the great white shark, has surfaced again in Florida waters, this time pinging off the coast just north of Port St. Lucie. Katharine, who has been swimming up the east coast of Florida since January, started her northward trek parallel to Lake Worth on January 13. In the months that have followed, she has moved up the coast as far...
OPINION: What boxing taught me about life

You may not know that Dayton has a rich history of boxing, including bouts by Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey and other boxing greats. Joe Louis knocked out Biff Bennett during an exhibition match at Memorial Hall in 1935. Nowadays, “Knockout Dayton” and “Fight Night” are two of the current local boxing matches. Both support good...
COMMENTARY: Immigration the link between French, American elections

In case you’ve been confused by the last few days of punditry, let me say outright that France is not America. For example, we recently concluded a presidential election in the United States in which many argued that it was imperative to smash the “final glass ceiling” by electing a female president. One doesn’t hear that kind...
COMMENTARY: Did President Trump help Bill O’Reilly’s case or sink it?

Fans of Bill O’Reilly are predictably upset that Fox News has pulled the plug on his popular show, “The O’Reilly Factor.” But take heart, folks. Bill O’Reilly isn’t really gone. You can hear his spirit in the Oval Office. “Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” said President Donald Trump...
More Stories