Statement from SPJ/LA’s President

Jan. 13, 2013

Contact info:

Alice Walton, President
Greater Los Angeles Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

LOS ANGELES — The board of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced today following a special meeting on Saturday that information had surfaced showing unauthorized withdrawals had been made from the chapter’s checking account.

Sarah Baisley, the chapter’s treasurer for many years, was removed from her position by the chapter president and ad hoc budget committee members after the unauthorized withdrawals were discovered following a review of chapter finances undertaken in the course of implementing SPJ/LA’s new finance policy, which adopted best practices recently recommended by the national organization.

SPJ/LA president Alice Walton said a preliminary review of chapter accounts revealed significant unauthorized withdrawals were made in 2010 and 2011, but emphasized that the full extent of potential losses was unknown at this time due to incomplete records.

Walton said SPJ/LA chapter board members have hired an attorney and will seek the services of a forensic accountant to compile as clear and complete a picture as possible of the extent of the unauthorized activity and the true state of the chapter’s finances. She said the withdrawals were discovered on the evening of Jan. 2, when a member of the ad hoc budget committee was reviewing the available records with the treasurer.

“Once we have a better accounting,” Walton said, “that information will be turned over to the proper law enforcement authorities without delay.”

Walton said the chapter was committed to an open and transparent accounting of the situation and to its ongoing efforts at putting safeguards in place to ensure that nothing similar could occur again in the future. She said that the day after the losses were first discovered, the financial institutions were contacted and measures taken to protect SPJ/LA assets.

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