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Fort Dodge foundation director fired for lying to board of directors

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Fort Dodge foundation director fired for lying to board of directors

May 15, 2024 | 11:38 am ET
By Clark Kauffman
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Fort Dodge foundation director fired for lying to board of directors
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The Fort Museum in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (Photo via Google Earth)

The executive director of a Fort Dodge charity was fired earlier this year for allowing the organization’s gambling and liquor licenses to lapse and then lying about it to the board of directors.

According to state records, Timothy Morris worked fulltime as the executive director of the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation from November 2022 to Feb. 7, 2024, when he was fired.

As executive director, Morris was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Fort Museum, reviewing financial information, maintaining licenses, assisting with fundraising events and scheduling employees. He reported directly to the charitable foundation’s board of directors.

The foundation is supported by donations from individuals and small businesses, and stages happy hours, bingo nights and other fundraising events considered critical to the organization’s ongoing operations. In order for a business in Iowa to serve food, liquor or engage in gambling activities, it must have and post valid licenses for each activity in a location that’s visible to the public.

State records indicate that during the June 2023 and July 2023 board meetings, members notified Morris the foundation’s food and gambling licenses would expire in September 2023, and that the liquor license would expire on January 4, 2024. The board allegedly reminded Morris that it was his responsibility to apply to have the licenses renewed.

In September 2023, one of the board members noticed that the gambling license posted on the wall was the expired license and e4xpressed concern at a board meeting that an upcoming bingo night would be hosted without a valid gambling license. Morris allegedly assured the board that the scheduled bingo night could proceed, stating that he had the renewed license on his computer and needed to print it out and post it on the well.

During the board meetings held in October, November, and December 2023, the board repeatedly asked Morris why the new licenses had yet to be posted. Morris allegedly responded to the inquiries with something to the effect of, “I’ve got it right here in my laptop, I just need to print it,” state records show.

During the December 2023 meeting, the board president reminded Morris the alcohol license was set to expired on Jan. 4, 2024, and instructed him he “absolutely has to have the alcohol and gambling licenses posted before the next bingo night.”

After Morris failed to post any of the renewed licenses, the board president contacted the state agencies responsible for overseeing food, gambling and liquor licenses and inquired about the status of the foundation’s licenses. All three of the licenses had expired and there were no pending renewal applications on file.

On Feb. 7, 2024, the board president called Morris into a meeting and informed him that his employment was being terminated immediately due to his failure to renew the licenses and for lying to the board of directors.

Morris subsequently filed for unemployment and collected $1,746 in benefits, which led to the foundation filing an appeal. The matter recently went before Administrative Law Judge Patrick Thomas, who presided over a hearing on Morris’ eligibility for benefits.

Thomas ruled against Morris, finding that the foundation “presented substantial and credible evidence that (Morris) repeatedly lied to the employer about the status of three licenses, which were necessary for the employer to host fundraising events in compliance with state law … His lies about the licenses exposed the employer to potential civil and criminal liability and was contrary to the best interests of the employer.”

As part of his ruling, Thomas ordered Morris to repay the benefits already collected.

The Fort Dodge Historical Foundation is a tax-exempt charity with a mission of operating and maintaining a museum related to the early settlement of Iowa and the Northwest Territory.