The new president of Cape Fear Community College is paying her own dues for a club that her predecessor joined using public money.
While scrutinizing the spending of former CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring, the trustees uncovered he had joined six different clubs and organizations using college money, while his contract only provided for the payment of dues for the Chamber of Commerce and one civic club.
Notably, Spring used the money to join private social clubs, like The City Club and The Cape Fear 50 club.
The college spent $1,292 for Spring’s involvement with the Cape Fear 50 Club, and CFCC even received a bill for a dinner Spring attended with them after he resigned from the college. On at least one occasion, emails indicate Spring’s wife joined him for a Cape Fear 50 Club dinner, and the college picked up the tab.
We asked CFCC what the Cape Fear 50 Club is, and what public benefit it provided the college that would justify public money being used to pay those dues.
According to college spokeswoman Rachel Nadeau, “The Cape Fear 50 Club is a private social club comprised of CEOs and business owners in southeastern NC. Its purpose is to provide an informal organization through which individuals who have demonstrated their leadership in business, professional or cultural life may come to know one another better, understand one another’s points of view and become better informed on issues of local, national, and international interest. It is the policy of the Club not to take formal positions or undertake or support any specific projects or issues. The Club is purely social in scope and purpose.”
The club holds a series of dinners throughout the year for its members, at high-end venues and restaurants like Manna, The City Club, and Pembroke’s. For $65 per person, per dinner, guests can join members for Cape Fear 50 Club events.
Nadeau said that CFCC did not pay the bill they received for Spring’s dinner on Jan. 29, 2015, a week after he’d resigned as president of the college.
Spring’s replacement, Dr. Amanda Lee, is a member of the Cape Fear 50 Club, but Nadeau says she personally pays for her membership dues and fees.
Debbie Elliott, a former board member for the CFCC Foundation and the owner of Talk, Inc., co-founded The Cape Fear 50 Club and served as club president at the time Spring was a member. She said he would have no longer qualified for membership after he resigned from his position as president of Cape Fear Community College.
Still, Elliott says Spring did attend the January 2015 dinner with a guest, a week after his resignation. She says he may have attended one other dinner after that as another member’s guest, but he has not attended any recent meetings.
Elliott explained they are a private social club, and they do not control how their members’ dues are paid. She said the bill the club sent to CFCC for the dinner Spring attended after his resignation would have been sent by a third party accountant.
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