Yawkey Foundation Grant Draws Conflict-of-Interest Probe

Yawkey Foundation Grant Draws Conflict-of-Interest Probe

Citing possible conflict-of-interest concerns, Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly plans to look into the Yawkey Foundation's approval last month of a $15 million grant to Boston College, the Boston Globe reports.

The foundation has been watched closely by Reilly since it reaped $420 million from the 2002 sale of the Boston Red Sox, whose longtime owners, Tom and Jean Yawkey, established the foundation. Reilly has criticized the foundation for favoring wealthier institutions over grassroots groups, and last year he imposed conflict-of-interest rules on its board that stipulate that no trustee "will propose any grant to, or transaction or arrangement with, any entity with respect to which the Trustee is an Interested Person."

Yawkey board chairman and executive director John L. Harrington, an alumnus and board member of Boston College, appears to have violated that rule. According to another board member, Harrington chaired a meeting at which he presented the Boston College grant proposal and was actively involved in discussing its details, although he recused himself from the actual vote.

The head of the attorney general's public charities division, Jamie Katz, said his office would review the grant and conduct a general examination of charitable board members. "We have been concentrating in the last year or two on cases involving charity officials who engage in possible private benefit and conflict of interest," he said. "We will be looking at whether the conflict-of-interest provision has been violated or there has been any violation of charity laws."

Frank Phillips. "$15M Yawkey Gift to BC to Be Probed for Possible Conflict." Boston Globe 05/08/2003.