KINGSPORT - A local organizer of a planned GOP presidential contenders forum and separate fund-raising dinner said today she has pulled out of the events because the main organizers haven’t shown accountability.
Kay White, a former Democratic congressional candidate and current Tea Party member, had been selling tickets and organizing volunteers for the October 15 events staged by Nashville-based Conservatives on the Move (COTM).
“The reason I resigned was I have asked for approximately three weeks for an accountability, and I have been given nothing,” White said. “...I’m not going to lose any more of the peoples’ money.”
Back in August, COTM announced it would stage a GOP presidential contenders debate and star-laden fund-raising dinner featuring television commentators Karl Rove and Oliver North.
Earlier this month, COTM political action committee Executive Director Fabian Story announced the debate had been changed to a forum because candidates didn’t like the debate format.
Both events were scheduled to happen at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
MeadowView General Manager Andy King said he no longer has a contract with COTM for the forum.
“It was always kind of wishy washy,” King said of the forum. “It started out being one thing but we did not receive payment from (Story).”
MeadowView still has a contract with White for the dinner, according to King. “(White) has given us a deposit and we are moving forward with her program,” he said.
In addition to having White sell tickets locally, COTM had been selling tickets on its Web sites (www.conservativesonthemove.org, www.conservativesonthemovepac.com) to both the forum and dinner. As of today, pay portals on those Web sites weren't there.
White said she repeatedly asked Story for bank statements of COTM’s political action committee (PAC) and separate non-profit unit.
“I was shown only the PAC account for July and August,” she said. “Neither account showed a payment to MeadowView or a payment to anything I could see that would pertain to the forum part...Repeatedly I was told it would be gotten to me and it wasn’t...I was told by Fabian there were things in (bank statements) he did not want me to see...We’re the ones raising money and we have no control over the money. I feel like we need assurance that the money spent is what we have raised it for.”
White said she collected about $30,000 for both events going into a local bank account, and had “six more thousand” in her possession before resigning her role.
When contacted, Story said he would make a statement about the events later today.