On Oct. 11 The Skanner web site published a letter from the National Newspaper Publisher's Association sanctioning Seattle-based publisher Christopher H. Bennett. The NNPA board chair John B. Smith, states that Bennett acted without NNPA authority in requesting $50,000 in funds from the Eli Lily Company. The matter is still under investigation.
Last week, Bennett, speaking on a local radio station, demanded an apology from The Skanner. So readers can make up their own minds, The Skanner today is publishing both the letter of sanction, issued in July, and a letter from the Eli Lily Company to Bennett dated last June.
In a letter dated July 10, 2007, Mr. John B. Smith, Sr., Board Chair of the National Newspaper Publisher's Association (NNPA) advised the members that Christopher H. Bennett and Christopher B. Bennett were sanctioned.The document stated:
On or about a date unknown to this Committee, you unilaterally negotiated and signed a contract with Eli Lilly and Company for $50,000.00 (Exhibit A). The Committee nor the Board of Directors (hereunto "Board") were not informed, nor included in these negotiations. Furthermore, you, or someone in concert with you, created a budget without input or knowledge from this Committee or Board (Exhibit B). A major concern of the Committee, aside from not having knowledge of this contract between NNPA and Eli Lilly, is a letter from Eli Lilly's representative, Mr. Thomas Wallace, dated June 11, 2007. In this letter, Mr. Wallace details how the grant of $50,000.00 from Eli Lilly is to be utilized. The funds are only to be used for the NNPA Praise Breakfast and the Diabetes Workshop. However, you, or a person working on your behalf, created a budget without our knowledge, participation or input. This unauthorized budget was not approved by the Committee or the Board and is under consideration as to its legitimacy. Furthermore, many requests were made for you to forward any contract or other documentation pertaining to this matter to the committee. You did not, nor did you cause any contract or information concerning negotiations, inform the Committee or Board as duly required by NNPA by-laws and customary edict. Therefore, please know that this matter will be investigated to the fullest extent.
The unauthorized signing of a $50,000.00 grant request, the creating of a budget without knowledge by the Committee or the Board, and you total lack of initiative to give the Committee information concerning all facets of your actions mandates this Committee to sanction you accordingly. Therefore, you will not be permitted to attend or take part in meetings of the Executive Committee until an investigation is completed and referred to the full Board for action.
This sanction has never been done to any publisher in the one hundred and fifty years of this association.