A petition for writ of mandamus was filed in Ford County District Court recently by Kansas Department American Legion Master-at-Arms Charles J. Sellens against the Department of Kansas American Legion and Jimmie Foster, adjutant and de facto finance officer for the American Legion.
According to Sellens, several relevant bylaws enumerate the power and responsibilities of the executive committee, the adjutant and the finance officer.
“Our American Legion department constitution and bylaws describes the authority that permits the existence of our not-for-profit organization,” Sellens said. “Adjutant Foster constantly ignores those bylaws to the detriment of the American Legion.
"I have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the American Legion operates in compliance with best practices for nonprofits generally and our own constitution and bylaws specifically.”
The petition for writ of mandamus states five key points regarding the reasoning for the petition.
One of the statements is that Foster "refuses to submit required, quarterly, reports of receipts and expenses and that there is no known record of quarterly reports ever being submitted to the DEC. There is no (known) record of an annual audit ever performed by accredited accountant."
According to Sellens, the issues involved in the acquisition and sale of Wichita Post 401 are especially troublesome. He wrote, “Our bylaws grant the executive committee exclusive authority for general supervision and control over all property belonging to the department.
"However I have been consistently rebuffed when I’ve asked for accounting of the acquisition and sale.”
In the petition filed it alleges that the American Legion Department of Kansas acquired ownership of a building and land formerly owned by American Legion Post 401 in Wichita.
"The building burned and the department reportedly received an insurance check of $535,000," the petition said. "Rebuilding was attempted without proper credentials or management.
"The property was recently sold at public auction with no official report to the executive committee of how much was netted and there has not been an audit of the financial transactions."
The petition adds that the proceeding is seeking an authoritative interpretation of the law for guidance of Kansas American Legion officers and officials in their administration of American Legion business.
Sellens says he is seeking relief obligating Adjutant/De Facto Finance Officer Jimmie Foster to begin submitting unredacted quarterly reports of receipts and expenditures to the Department Executive Committee and for additional relief obligating Foster to ensure an audit of department receipts and expenditures by a credited accountant.
In an answer to the petition, Foster, through attorney Joseph A. DeWoskin, denied the statement made of Foster and his title as adjutant of the Department of Kansas American Legion, saying the plaintiff “fails to identify where defendant Jimmie Foster resides or to properly identify that he is an employee of the American Legion, Kansas Department.”
However, the Kansas American Legion website at ksamlegion.org/page/content/main/contact lists Foster as the adjutant.
The answer to the petition also requests a change of venue from Ford County to Shawnee County.
DeWoskin also states that “an email was sent on March 15, 2018 to Department Executive Committee members advising that the finance officer was no longer employed by the department and department commander at the time appointed Foster.”
The answer also denies all other statements made regarding the Wichita facility and the $535,000, as well as the refusing to submit quarterly reports and expenses.
DeWoskin said “defendants deny that there is any guidance contained in the American Legion, Kansas Department Constitution and bylaws as to how often, when or how an audit is to be made by a, “'credible accountant.' "
DeWoskin asked the court to dismiss the petition made by Sellens.
At this time, a court date has not been made as jurisdiction in the matter is still being debated.
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