Having a Wax Figure Made of Yourself: $900,000

Allegedly using sorority money to do it? Priceless

Members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority are attempting to fire their national president, Barbara McKinzie, after McKinzie allegedly used sorority money to commission a $900,000 “living legacy wax figure” of herself.

Sometimes, this stuff just writes itself.

Eight Alpha Kappa Alpha members filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Superior Court on June 20, reports Washington Business Journal.  The members want to fire their national leaders and order McKinzie to return funds stemming from alleged misuse of a corporate credit card; a $375,000 lump sum payment; and a $4,000 monthly stipend McKinzie is to be paid for four years after she leaves office.

Washington Business Journal reports:

Most Washingtonians recall the organization’s centennial celebration last summer -- downtown D.C. was swarmed by thousands of AKA members decked head-to-toe in pink and green.... The event itself, though, is part of the controversy. The massive attendance -- and a registration fee that was twice as high as it had been in prior years, $500 per person -- generated significant surplus funds for the organization, the plaintiffs allege.
The plaintiffs claim that McKinzie, with the approval of the group’s directors but without the approval of the overall membership, spent the surplus funds on McKinzie’s “pet projects.”

Listen, we'll totally make that wax sculpture for way less than $900,000, OK? We'll do it for for, like, $100,000, but they're going to have to supply the wax, because we're not melting down every pack of crayons we can find at corner CVSes. Nope, not doing that. Have you seen the stains that melted crayons can leave on upholstery?

However, McKinzie disputed that amount in a media statement: "Two new wax figures -- one of me as president at the time of the centennial and one of our first international president -– were purchased for a total of $45,000 by the Centennial Boule Hostess Chapters to complement the wax figure of our founder created in 1996." The $900,000 was actually the amount allocated by Alpha Kappa Alpha's board of directors to help defray overall expenses for the 2010 convention, McKenzie said.

But despite all that money McKinzie's allegedly been raking in (and paying out), the complainants say that her position is usually UNPAID.

We've taken unpaid jobs before, and they usually involved making photocopies and fetching coffee. We didn't get wax sculptures of ourselves when we were done. Although it would have been nice to have been acknowledged. Sniff.

And more from Washington Business Journal:

The group’s accounting and investment strategies are also under fire. According to the complaint, several of the deductions on the sorority’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns are “unreasonably large and inappropriate”....

Under McKinzie’s leadership, AKA also shifted several million dollars of the sorority’s and the foundation’s funds from cash and cash equivalents to stock and bond investments -- those investments have since plummeted in value, according to the complaint.

The organization has also allegedly spent more than $500,000 in legal fees in 2008 and 2009 for “actions against whistleblowers.”

In her statement to the media, McKinzie denied the allegations of personal use of sorority funds; she said the claim is "unsupported by the organization's audited books. All expenses were consistent with furthering AKA’s mission."

Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908 as the nation's first sorority for African-American college and professional women, and they now have hundreds of chapters across the world. Famous members include Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King and Star Jones. And in the wake of this scandal, we're just WAITING for Star Jones to sound off on this issue. No one should ever make that woman angry.

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