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Oklahoma nonprofit responds to former US congressman suit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former congressman was fired from an Oklahoma City-based charity because he misrepresented his fundraising abilities and sought to hire friends for high-paying jobs, directors of the nonprofit group said in response to a lawsuit.

J.C. Watts sued Feed the Children and six directors in April, alleging he was fired from his role as CEO and president in retaliation for reporting problems at the charity to the state attorney general’s office. The group denies any such problems exist, The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/2rEeiwo ) reported.

In a court filing last week, Feed the Children directors alleged Watts’ conduct while working for the organization was “insubordinate, dishonest and improper.” They said he was fired for legitimate business reasons.

“Significantly, during his nine months of employment, plaintiff’s ‘efforts’ resulted in less than $14,000 in fundraising,” the directors claimed.

Watts claims the board of directors terminated him the day after he told them he reported his allegations to the attorney general’s office. His lawsuit alleges he went to the attorney general’s public protection unit in October after attempting to discuss the irregularities with the board on several occasions.

“He wants the court and a jury to hear the truth about Feed the Children,” Watts’ attorneys said Tuesday.

The directors deny that there are issues with the charity’s operations and say they didn’t know about his communications with the attorney general’s office. They claim that they’ve “acted lawfully and in good faith to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to act in the best interests of Feed the Children and its charitable purpose.”

Watts is seeking compensation for financial damages and emotional distress. He also seeks punitive damages.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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