Friday, July 05, 2002

Wethington resigns from dining club




The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Former University of Kentucky President Charles Wethington has resigned from a Lexington dining club because it has no black members, according to a letter he sent Wednesday to the UK treasurer.

        “It has recently come to my attention that there are no African-American members in the Lexington Club,” the letter said. Mr. Wethington also said he would personally reimburse the university for the $600 in annual dues.

        Mr. Wethington declined to comment.

        The club has no black members, and Bob Pollard, vice president of the board of directors, said he couldn't remember any black applicants. The club does not discriminate against black potential members, but women are not admitted for full membership, he said.

        Women can come to the club for meals, but they cannot be members. Widows of members can have “social memberships,” which allow them all privileges except voting, Mr. Pollard said.

        Anyone who wants to join must have several sponsors among current members.

        Mr. Wethington's membership in the club, and other expenses, are paid for as part of his job as a fund-raiser for UK. His contract runs through 2003.

        The $600 dues and about $2,800 in meals at the Lexington Club were paid for out of a $100,000 private fund. The money, donated to UK by Lexington businessman Gerald Healy for Mr. Wethington's use in fund raising, also pays for Mr. Wethington's travel.

        UK has an unwritten policy prohibiting business dealings with any discriminatory organizations, said Jack Blanton, vice president for administration.

        Mr. Blanton said UK officials also didn't realize that the Lexington Club didn't have any black members.

        “If we knew of such a thing, we would obviously not approve it,” he said.

        The university pays for faculty and staff memberships in professional organizations, but pays for social memberships only for the president.

        President Lee Todd belongs to the University Club of New York and the University Golf Club, but not the Lexington Club, Mr. Blanton said. The same policy about all-white organizations applies to social clubs.

        Former UK President Otis Singletary belonged to Idle Hour Country Club, an organization that has no black members and has been accused of discriminatory practices in the past. His dues were paid by another private account at UK called the Haggin Trust. The Haggin Trust also pays for some of Mr. Wething ton's expenses.

        In 1990, the General Assembly amended the state tax code to prohibit tax deductions for expenses at any club that discriminates on any basis.

        That ruling was challenged by several private clubs, including Idle Hour, which said the state Human Rights Commission didn't have authority over them.

        An attorney general's opinion issued thereafter said some tax deductions might be allowed for contributions to private clubs, but the state revenue code prohibits deductions to organizations that discriminate.

       



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- Wethington resigns from dining club