Vanessa Williams, executive director of the National Conference of Black Mayors is a accused of incurring in excess of $600,000 in questionable business according to a lawsuit filed in Fulton County court. Twenty-one mayors across the nation are now calling for Williams’ resignation.
The Atlanta-based political organization has been under scrutiny by auditors for its growing and seemingly insurmountable debt totaling nearly $1 million dollars includes a shocking shopping list that includes everything from Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s to private school tuition.
Williams however contends the debt is the result of embezzlement by a former board member. But outrage from vendors and the organization’s inability to make good on payment promises caused the NCBM to elect Sacramento mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson as its new president. The NCBM also created a task force to investigate the charges.
Johnson has since sued Williams, saying she wouldn’t cooperate. Williams filed a counterclaim saying Mayor Johnson was improperly elected. And although, Fulton County Judge Christopher Brasher ordered Ms. Williams to turn over the financial records, the former director has yet to comply.
Bank records for the organization however indicate that the NCBM spent money at Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Juicy Couture, Louis Vuitton, ticket broker StubHub, Toys ‘R’ Us, private Christian school tuition along with cash payments to Williams and her husband.
Jeff Dickerson, a regular on “The Georgia Gang,” is the NCBM’s spokesman. He says the board was stunned when it saw the expenses. “One of the questions they want answered, how did this go on? How do they stop it?” said Dickerson. “They want it stopped right away.”
Dickerson says if the conference can get its financial house in order, it can begin to repay dozens of people it owes money to.”It will be a chance to pay back the money or a portion of it,” he said.