Justice Department finds nothing to pursue
After four months and checks by two departments, state officials shut down investigation into the Museum of the Waxhaws.
“Based on the information attorneys with our office have reviewed, we don’t see anything that would cause us to take action at this time,” State Justice Department spokesperson Noelle Talley said.
The information echoes an earlier report by the Secretary of State’s office, which said it found no wrongdoing with how the museum operated, based on the forms submitted each year to the Internal Revenue Service. The Secretary of State’s nonprofits division granted the foundation its charter and monitors its tax exempt status.
Since April, four complaints were filed with the Secretary of State’s office regarding the museum and its financial practices. Out of those four, only two actually progressed to written, official complaints. Out of those two, only one included any type of supporting -documentation.
A Justice Department official, who asked to remain anonymous, said attorneys didn’t see anything illegal with how the museum board operated.
“The questions in the complaints kept coming back to if money was spent wisely and that’s not something for us to investigate,” the official said. “The question we look at is did the board break the law.”
In 2007, the museum received $132,577 in grants, gifts and other donations. That dropped in 2008 to $84,206 and in 2009 to $62,070. In each of the years, the museum managed to generate a profit, except for the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, where they posted a $45,363 deficit, due in part to replacing the museum’s roof. Each complaint raised the question of how the museum can be in debt, when three out of four years it turned a profit.
As with the Secretary of State’s office, Justice Department officials highlighted that North Carolina does not give them any authority over how museums spend state, federal or local grant dollars, as long as everything is documented and handled correctly. No evidence collected by the state showed illegal activity, Talley said.
“Unless additional information is brought to our attention (the investigation is over),” Talley said.