Baylor and Southwestern Baptist regain management of the founding of Texas after a failed coup.
(RNS) – Two Texan Baptist schools have regained control of a Texas foundation founded by a longtime benefactor.
The two schools filed a lawsuit in September alleging trustees of the Texas-based Harold E. Riley Foundation were part of a “coup” to divert support from the schools to a nonprofit controlled by former Southwestern President Paige Patterson . The lawsuit is against the intent of the late Harold E. Riley, a wealthy businessman who set up the foundation for the benefit of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Several of the foundation’s trustees named in the lawsuit have ties to Patterson, who was fired in 2018. The foundation’s president, Mike Hughes, who served as Southwestern’s vice president for promotion under Patterson, was also named in the lawsuit.
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In a deal announced on Monday, February 8th, Hughes, August “Augie” Boto – a former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee – and Charles Hott agreed to appoint four new trustees named by Baylor and Southwestern. Boto, Hughes and Hott also agreed to step down from the Board of Trustees.
They also agreed not to “hold fundraisers” to discourage donations to Southwestern or Baylor, or to try to divert donations away from the school. Hughes, Boto, and Hott also agreed they would not seek a job or role as “officer, director, or trustee” with any Texas charity or national Southern Baptist Convention organization.
The Trustees agreed to return all of the Foundation’s property – including computers, vehicles, files, and credit cards – to Baylor and Southwestern.
“This painful and costly move was necessary to protect charitable donors who deserve confidence that the purpose of their generous gifts will be served with integrity and without interference,” Southwest President Adam Greenway said in a statement.
Texas Attorney General Ken Patton alleged in court documents that Hughes and Hott were part of a program “to receive substantial salaries and benefits from this charitable foundation and to find a way to structure the foundation to the detriment of its only charitable beneficiaries to change. Baylor and Southwestern. “
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The comparison does not solve all of the foundation’s legal problems. Riley donated a number of shares in Citizens Inc., his company, to the foundation. Because of these shares, the foundation had the right to appoint members to the company’s board of directors. The Board of Trustees attempted to add Patterson, Hughes, and Boto to Citizens Inc.’s board of directors. That attempt failed and resulted in a lawsuit pending in Colorado.
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