After a ten month probe led by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau against the six board members of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Inc. a decision will soon be made on whether some or all six members will be removed from the organization for its handling of sponsor deals and other deals that present conflicts of interest.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is expected to announce his decision regarding the board members of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Inc., or NPRDP for short, after the sponsor dealing with Coors Light shined a spotlight on them.
In May of last year board members of NPRDP threw some criticism after licensing the 2013 Puerto Rican Day Parade’s logo to be used on cans of Coors Light commemorating the event. While the deal promised the proceeds earned to go toward a scholarship fund, the deal ignited a debate on whether the connection of the parade to an alcoholic beverage sent the wrong message.
In response to the deal the Attorney General Charities Bureau Chief Jason Lilien released a statement directed at the NPRDP asking for a detailed explanation about “the nature of [the] organization’s relationship with MillerCoors and how such relationship has been reported in annual financial reports filed with our office,” especially the support with the NPRDP’s scholarship fund.
“The sponsorship money goes into all of the parade activities. It’s not just the parade on 5th Avenue. People believe that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade’s only focus is on 5th Avenue. That is not the only thing the National Puerto Rican Day Parade does,” said Madelyn Hugo, the head of the board of NPRDP, back in June in an interview with Latino Rebels.
“We do a festival that is free to the community, we have two stages with musical bands that we are paying for, a day full of activities and not charging anything to the community. We also do a fiesta for our seniors that is a parade activity paid in full by the parade. We have to raise money for that. We have the scholarship program. We have the Juegos Boricuas and the Torneo de Dominó the Saturday before the parade. This is free of charge for all our community.”
In addition to the dealing with Coors Light, findings by the New York Post reveal that the NPRDP’s business and marketing agent Carlos Velasquez may have been using the organization dealings with sponsors to steer business to other events he handles due to being President of the marketing firm, GALOS Corp.
“Carlos Velasquez has been working with this parade for over 40 years, he was at one time a board member of the whole organization,” said Hugo, in the interview mentioned above NPRDP’s dealing with GALOS Corp.
However, the connection to GALOS Corp poses another reason for the investigation being led by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.
NPRDP has come under fire for exhibiting incidents involving conflicts of interest, one of which deals directly with Madelyn Hugo.
NPRDP faces the accusation of having conflicts of interest due to the marriage between Hugo and fellow board member Luis Rivera. Rivera worked as a paid consultant for GALOS Corp., which is a for-profit marketing firm for the parade.
In 2012 tax filings NPRDP was discovered to have paid GALOS $103,108 for its services leading to questions regarding the dealing as well.
Solely paid for by sponsorships and donations the Puerto Rican Day Parade is an annual event held on every second Sunday in June which honors the estimated 4 million inhabitants living in Puerto Rico and over 4 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States. In 2012 it had revenues of $461,363 but spent $620,546.
But the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau isn’t the only one questioning the dealings of the Bronx non-profit organization. The National Institute for Latino Policy, or the (NiLP), also find the dealings of the NPRDP questionable.
In response to the awaiting decision of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NiLP issued a statement of their own which questions the issues that the NPRDP faced back in 1994.
“As we documented back in 1994, the problems facing the Parade are longstanding ones, making the Attorney General’s actions in response to complaints from the Puerto Rican community a significant reform of this much-criticized institution,” said NiLP’s Angelo Falcón.
“With a newly-constituted Board of Directors and the continued monitoring by the Attorney General’s office, the hope is that the parade can return to its original mission of representing the best of the culture and people of the Puerto Rican community,” added Falcón, believing the NPRDP needs a much needed reform in the interest of the Puerto Rican community.
In a response of their own, Hugo representing the NPRDP released a statement:
“ We cannot comment because the State Attorney General’s Office is still conducting its process. Our organization continues to fully cooperate with the Attorney General, and I stand by previous statements that no Board Member at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. has committed any wrongdoing with sponsor deals and conflicts of interests. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. is a not for profit organization registered with the State of New York, and therefore the State Attorney General is fully entitled to ensure that its assets are protected. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with the AG during the entire process, and we are ready to implement any mandates that might result from it.”
So, are the allegations mere speculation into the common business dealings of familiar networking or are they grounded concerns for the misuse of a non-profit organization to acquire personal gain?
We will have to wait and see until Attorney General Eric Schneiderman releases his ruling and what will come after since the story is still developing.