Friday, October 12, 2012

SCV Calls for Investigation of Carter House Association

Press Release from the Sons of Confederate Veterans

For Immediate Release

Contact: Allen Sullivant
Phone: 615-971-7484

Sons of Confederate Veterans Request Investigation of Battle of Franklin Trust by State Officials

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) announced today that an attorney retained to investigate allegations of mismanagement and improper conduct by members of the Boards of Directors of both The Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, and its management group, of The Battle of Franklin Trust (BOFT), has uncovered numerous instances of apparent disregard for the legal requirements for operating non-profit corporations, conflicts of interest on the parts of several members of both boards, and a possible misuse of state funds. As a result of this investigation, the SCV has requested the Tennessee Historical Commission to undertake its own investigation, and to involve other state offices such as those of the Attorney General and State Comptroller as they see fit. The Carter House is a state-owned historic site, under the stewardship of the Tennessee Historical Commission, and is one of Tennessee's premier tourist destinations.

Managed under the auspices of the Carter House Association since the 1950s, practically all control of the Carter House was signed away to the Battle of Franklin Trust three years ago in what some are calling a political maneuver, one which may be costing the taxpayers of Tennessee. Now, the Battle of Franklin Trust is requesting the Tennessee Historical Commission to deed related state property to them. Surprisingly, two of the people making the request have strong ties to the state, one being a state commissioner, and the other being the wife of a state commissioner.

"We were troubled to discover that state funds were possibly being used to make payments on an existing mortgage against Carnton Plantation, a privately owned historic site which is also managed by the Battle of Franklin Trust" said William Speck, Heritage Chairman for the Tennessee Division of the SCV. The mortgage in question was initiated by Marianne Schroer, wife of TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, when she was chairman of the board of directors of the Carnton property. She now holds the same position on the board of the Battle of Franklin Trust. Marianne Schroer and another state commissioner, Tourism Department head Susan Whitaker, who is also a board member for the BOFT, have spear-headed the BOFT's effort to obtain title to taxpayer-owned property.

Mr. Speck added, "The Carter House property belongs to the people of Tennessee and no portion of it should be given away to any group whose financial situation is questionable and whose grasp of proper management practices is apparently deficient. Therefore, the SCV retained the services of attorney Randy Lucas, and his investigation has confirmed that the problems with the Battle of Franklin Trust rise above mere carelessness. Mr. Lucas has outlined a number of deficiencies and conflicts of interest among board officers, and has now forwarded his findings to the Tennessee Historical Commission."

The SCV is requesting the Tennessee Historical Commission to vote against any concept of transferring property to the Battle of Franklin Trust. Further, the SCV is requesting that the Tennessee Historical Commission immediately open an investigation into the BOFT and the legal issues and financial questions brought forward by their attorney, involving any state agencies they feel necessary. Finally, the SCV requests a decision as to whether the contract between Carter House and the BOFT is legally binding, because of the "perpetual" control given over a state-owned property, and because the Carter House board president who solely approved the contract is an officer on both boards, which appears to be a classic conflict of interest.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is an international organization of descendants of Confederate soldiers and the nation's largest military history and genealogy society. Formed in 1896, the SCV owns, operates, and manages many historic properties, including Winstead Hill Memorial Park in Franklin, the General N.B. Forrest Home in Chapel Hill, and Beauvoir - the last home of Jefferson Davis, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Its headquarters are in Columbia, Tennessee, at historic Elm Springs.