Local News

State Probes Fundraising by Fayetteville Mayor

Posted October 16, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The state has launched an investigation into the fundraising activities of Fayetteville's mayor.

J.L. Dawkins has worked as a paid solicitor for the Fayetteville Urban Ministry, but neither Dawkins nor the Ministry has a state license for fundraising. The mayor says they simply did not know they needed a state license to raise money. He insists no one meant to break any law, and he sees this as an honest mistake. This summer, when the non-profit organization recognized the oversight, its director notified the state and put a hold on fundraising.

The Fayetteville Urban Ministry is in an old downtown building that's falling apart. The ministry helps the needy through a number of programs, which have outgrown this place. A brand new home is in the works, thanks to a fundraising campaign led by the city's mayor. All is looking up. Except for one thing: neither the mayor nor the ministry had a state license to raise the money.

"We didn't know," said Ministry Director Rusty Long. "We all know ignorance in no excuse, but we didn't know. We should have, and I guess, we apologize. We're sorry. But we're going to fix it."

Dawkins raised more than $350,000. He received about $50,000 of that as commission, a bargain compared to some professional fundraisers.

The mayor says letters to potential donors indicated he was a fundraising consultant. The law requires you to say you're a paid solicitor. "Probably, we need to explain things better from here on out," Dawkins said.

The mayor is very passionate about his work with the ministry and says he wants everything above board. Still, the state is looking into this matter and there's an outside chance of civil fines. The mayor says he doesn't expect any because the ministry's been up-front about the problem.