[eDebate] [CEDA-L] RewardPointsGate--CEDA exposed!!

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Tue Dec 30 18:28:35 CST 2008


This is funny I see that not having email for a few days gave you some
time to be creative.

There are some good questions here, but also a bit more defensive than
i think is necessary.

Frequent flyer miles and other rewards programs are considered "price
adjustments" tantamount to rebates, employees or officers should under
general accounting procedures not receive personal compensation from
this. It is similar to having the rebate check made out to your self
when the organization or corporation you work for buys your phone. It
is not illegal, and the irs doesn't have a specific enforment arm for
such things, but they are starting to care. It is bundled in the
executive compensation scrutiny that sarbanes oxley and grassley have
started looking into, and it will be incorporated into the new public
tax reporting form.

There is no loophole for reimbursements, its considered a non
accountable reimbursement(something the irs does have specific
enforments on) and subject to scrutiny.

There is also no room for a well this president donated so much time
and money to the org that it seemed ok. Thats an employment officer
arrangement with the organization that if documented falls into one of
the catagories above, if not documented above is frowned upon by
general accounting procedures.

It also is not currently illegal to take the benefits as an
individual, it does not have to be claimed on income taxes...yet...

So no i am not accusing anyone or the organization of anything
illegal, at worst its less than optimal governance.

However, less than optimal governance can spell problems for non
profits, it can lead to bad audits, decreased potential to take
donations, and chum for media sharks who are looking for something to
write about. Plus it breeds contempt and distrust amongst the members.

I have been combing the 990, looking to see if there is a record of
the reward points i can't find them, but i havent gotten through the
whole thing yet. And this really is the point. I shouldnt have to ask,
i should be able to find out as a member of the public and the
organization how the organizations assests are handled, thats the
point of public disclosure requirements, i may know the folks you
mentioned, and could probably ask them, but i want to know what the
outside view looks like, not what i can find out from those that care.
Plus without transparency there is no reason to trust that i will get
anything but the news people want me to hear, i imagine all of the
people in ceda would disclose freely (in fact one former presidents
boast about his hotel points comes to mind as a free disclosure) but i
should be able to know without asking the people for whom the
disclosure has potential consequences, thats the public trust
obligation.

Here is my guess, CEDA presidents have had to put things on their
personal cards because ceda does not have the financial resources to
maintain an active credit card account with the kind of limit needed
to do such things, if thats the case the leaders who have offered up
their own cards have been helping the org in a lurch and should be
commended, but thats not how it should be, the organization should be
capable of maintaining and benefiting from such accounts. It should
not rely on the willingness of its officers nor should it pay what
amounts to a fee for not having business accounts capeable of handling
its business.

Finally, you mention this allusion to you and your work, i was
referring to the attempt to establish multi year hotel contracts, i
should have been more clear. As for the time question...thats not a
legally defensible position, nor is it a reason the non accountable
reimbursement plan would pass an audit(not the kind the irs does, but
the kind an external auditor does to certify our governance
practices).

If i take over as 2nd VP i want to know every line of our public
disclousres. I want to be able to say" no andy you missed the rewards
points in section 4, they are listed as an accounatable reimbursement,
as per our accountant and independent audit, i can show you our public
conflict of interest policy that all execs must sign. I can also
provide you the officer compensation information from our most recent
form 990.  you will note that if you look at our annual financial
disclosure in the report widely available on our website you will see
our reasoning for why we made the decision we did, if you would like
any other documents that we are required to disclose please remit
payment of 40 cents per document plus a $5.00 copying and processing
fee, thank you and if you need any thing else please check out
www.cedadebate.org/about where you will find minutes from our buisness
meetings. annual reports, and our disclosures of our conflict of
interest policies. If you have additional questions please feel free
to contact kelly mcdonald."

On 12/30/08, Darren Elliott <delliott at kckcc.edu> wrote:
> Associated Press reporting:
>
> Achten and Whalen jet-setting to European Parli Conference on the back of
> CEDA Rewards Points.  Stop.
> Jarman and Massey attending Big 12 Championship Games in Kansas City and
> living it up at Downtown Marriott.  Not as shocking as OU win! : ) Stop.
> Baker, Steinberg, Warner, and Sandoz enjoying golf outing in Tempe with
> McDonald.  Charging extravagant meals to Holiday Inn Reward Points Club.
> Stop.
> Patrice movements unknown and protected by National Security as Debate Coach
> of entire Army!  Stop.
>
> Here is a better one--just Stop!
>
> Andy asks about the rewards points possibility from past CEDA Nationals.
> Wonder if he asked the right people?
>
> I only comment because quite often, "questions" posed to edebate/ceda-l are
> suspicious in their intent.  Anyone who has hosted a CEDA Nationals in the
> past x number of years (Jarman, Massey, Mahoney, Whalen, Warner, McDonald)
> or who was CEDA President at the time (Patrice, Steinberg, Baker, Schriver,
> Sandoz, Whalen) or who was CEDA Treasurer at the time (McDonald, Achten)
> could take that public posting as an attempt to expose some underhanded
> activity on their part.  The post even suggested the points were being
> "quietly used" to pad the room nights of CEDA execs or "going to" the person
> charging things on their credit card.  Both of these suggest ill-intent on
> those who would have had the power to do so.  Their names for the last 6
> years are above.  But this does not seem to be a productive inquiry.
>
> Andy, did you email any of these folks personally and ask:
> 1.  Did CEDA ever look into banking reward points for the ideas you listed
> in your 2nd email?
> 2.  Did CEDA ever try to formalize a relationship with parent hotel
> companies to allow the organization to benefit from points?
> 3.  Did CEDA allow individual programs to earn their own points (something I
> am sure is happening and completely legitimate for schools paying their own
> bills).
>
> My point is, edebate and ceda-l as a launching point for these "questions"
> are more often than not seen as "accusations" towards people who give their
> time, energy, heart, and soul to this organization.  It gets frustrating
> that good intentions get slammed, that good people get accused of things
> that are crazy, and that we dont first assume people are acting in good
> faith.
> If Andy is elected to a leadership position, he will understand too well how
> these forums serve to frustrate more than accomplish anything positive.
>
> Final 2 points.  First, you alluded to me doing some work in this area but
> you have no idea where the points are.  I have no idea what work you are
> referring to.  At one a year or so ago you mentioned rewards points and I
> echoed that if CEDA were to create a relationship that would be great.  The
> conversation ended there.  Second point, my guess is many individual
> programs collect their own points for use during the year OR that CEDA execs
> simply didnt have the TIME to invest in reward points banking with all of
> the other demands that come with the job.
>
> Cut folks some slack.  Ask them directly.  Then begin a productive dialogue
> about what CEDA should do.  Your ideas are valuable ones.  They just get
> lost in the accusatory tone of "quietly used" rhetoric.
>
> Of course, maybe I am wrong.  Wonder where Achten spent the Holidays!  ; )
>
> chief
>
> Darren Elliott
> Director of Debate and Forensics--KCKCC
> CEDA President
> _______________________________________________
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> CEDA-L at www.ndtceda.com
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>



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