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NAMIC Says It Will Investigate Claims Against Group's President

The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity In Communications said it will look into claims of financial and operational impropriety leveled against NAMIC president Nicol Turner-Lee in an anonymous e-mail sent to industry organizations and the trade press Friday.

The e-mail -- sent from someone calling himself or herself Tony Stark, the alias for Marvel Comics’ Iron Man superhero character, and supposedly representing NAMIC members -- expressed “concerns” regarding the alleged mishandling and misappropriation of funds by Turner-Lee, who took over the diversity-based organization last April. The e-mail also made claims about outstanding debts owed to the Darden School – NAMIC’s executive education partner -- and “deteriorating relationships” with high-profile vendors including the Hilton New York Hotel, which hosted NAMIC’s annual conference last September.

The email misspelled Turner-Lee's first name as Nicole and contained a generic Yahoo return email address.

Turner-Lee joined NAMIC from a prior post at a public policy institute. The email was sent to, among others, representatives of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, which provides funding to NAMIC and two other cable-industry organizations that advance the cause of advocating for diversity in employment and leadership ranks.

The e-mail also requested that the NAMIC board facilitate an independent audit, with the results released to NAMIC's members and sponsors.     

NAMIC released a statement Friday night regarding the e-mail: “At this time, NAMIC is looking into the claims made in the anonymous email widely circulated on Friday, March 8, 2013.”

Late Saturday the association added, through a spokesperson, a statement by Michael Armstrong, chair of NAMIC's board of directors: “At this time, NAMIC is looking into the claims made in the anonymous email widely circulated on Friday, March 8, 2013. We will work closely with our third party accounting and audit firms to quickly get to the facts. Please be assured that NAMIC’s Board of Directors is being thorough in its examination. We will provide further comment once the fact finding process has been completed.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.