United Way President Francis X. McNamara Jr. announced today that he is taking a paid leave of absence in the wake of disclosures that he loaned more than $300,000 in donated money to five executives.
McNamara announced his temporary leave and then left a crowded news conference without answering questions as United Way Chairman Roy Anderson announced that a citizens' panel and new auditors will make a sweeping examination of his management of the agency.
Anderson, the retired chairman of Lockheed Corp., said he will take over immediately as acting president.
McNamara read a statement saying he had done nothing wrong in arranging more than $300,000 in mostly interest-free and unsecured loans for five executives during 1980-82. Three of the executives still owe money. The loans were made without the board of directors' knowledge, although key volunteers approved the transaction.
"This is the greatest United Way in the country in terms of the scope of its accomplishments, inclusiveness and money raised," McNamara said. He then said that for the "good of United Way" he was taking a temporary leave, and walked out of the Press Club.
Anderson, flanked by 14 prominent civic leaders who serve as united Way directors and volunteer fund-raisers, then announced a major review intended to "regain public confidence" in the federated fund-raising organization.
Anderson spoke after a two-hour, closed-door meeting of about half of United Way's 95-member board.
The board wants a through examination of "management policies, procedures and internal controls," he said.
Anderson also said a panel of citizens not on the United Way board will be appointed to conduct a through review, which he said he hopes will be finished in 60 days.
In addition, a national accounting firm-other than Deloitte Haskins & Sells, United Way's current auditors-will examine its finances.
Anderson said McNamara's taking a leave of absence "demonstrates his very unselfish" community service, and he praised McNamara for increasing United Way's donations from $21 million 19 years ago to a reported $85.5 million in pledges this year.
McNamara characterized the loans as "personnel Costs" that he said were recouped many times over through increased efficiency in fund raising. He expressed confidence that "nothing will show mismanagement," shook Anderson's hand and walked off the Press Club stage.