Beneficiaries say they still haven’t received any proceeds from March event; organizer Anthony Chisom won’t return calls seeking comment
Three weeks after Anthony Chisom reportedly told beneficiaries of the South Dallas AIDS Walk that their checks from the March 24 event were in the mail, none of the checks have been received.
No accounting of the second annual walk has been released, either.
Chisom, founder and CEO of the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation, has not returned phone calls seeking comment.
A reporter who went to The Memnosyne Foundation on Maple Avenue, which Chisom lists as his place of employment, was told Chisom was not there.
Several people listed as board members for the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation, which put on the walk, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Auntjuan Wiley, volunteer executive director for the foundation and the walk, estimated that the event raised $10,000 to $20,000 in sponsorships and donations from walkers. However, Wiley said he believes expenses ate up most of the money.
Although Wiley coordinated the walk, he said he did not collect any of the money or write checks to pay any of the expenses. He said that Chisom was the only one who touched the checkbook.
The Internal Revenue Service revoked the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation’s tax-exempt status in May 2011, after the foundation failed to file the required tax forms for three consecutive years.
Dallas police fraud investigators said they can’t open an investigation without a formal complaint from one of the sponsors or donors and without knowing how much money was involved, according to Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison officer.
Sponsors were told that the walk, through the 501(c)(3) non-profit Chisom Foundation, had tax-exempt status, even though that status had been revoked.
A spokesman for the IRS said for tax purposes, the Chisom Foundation should account for the donations as income. Like any for-profit business, the foundation has until April 15, 2013 to file its tax returns from 2012.
In addition to Chisom’s own foundation, three other beneficiaries were to have received funds from the walk: AIDS Interfaith Network, the DFW Pride Movement and Abounding Prosperity.
Representatives from AIDS Interfaith and DFW Pride Movement declined to comment.
The South Dallas AIDS Walk began in 2011 and is not associated in any way with the AIDS Arms LifeWalk.
LifeWalk, which takes place in Oak Lawn in October, began in 1990 to benefit Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed in 2000, AIDS Arms took over several of OLCS’s services, as well as its biggest fundraiser.
Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS Services Dallas, which is not a beneficiary of the South Dallas AIDS Walk, said that “any nonprofit that operates under the guise of helping peopel needs to be transparent.”
“There needs to be checks and balances and accountability,” Maison said. “That’s philanthropy 101.”
Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity, has been vocal in his criticism of the way funds were handled.
More than a beneficiary check, Myers said he wants to see a full accounting of the event.
Frank Librio, director of the city of Dallas’ Public Information Office, said a permit was issued for the walk, which was held on MLK Boulevard and Pennsylvania
Avenue between Fair Park and Edgewood Street.
Under the permit, organizers were required to have 12 police officers and one supervisor for traffic and crowd control. The cost for the 13 officers if paid the required minimum of four hours would have been $2,100.
Four medics were to be on standby from Dallas Fire and Rescue.
According to Dallas city spokesman Jose Torres, the officers were paid directly at the end of the event and the requirement for medics was eliminated when “the client called and said the number of attendees had dropped.”
Although organizers of the walk obtained an event permit, they did not obtained other required permits for “electrical use and stage assembly,” according to Sherry
Taylor, an administrative specialist for city of Dallas.
Abounding Prosperity’s Myers said he would like the South Dallas AIDS Walk to continue under new leadership.
He said it was a good way to bring awareness of HIV to people in South Dallas and to showcase services available to them. He said he would also like the event to become profitable so that agencies like his and Peabody Clinic and AIDS Interfaith Network can deliver more services to people in that hard-hit area of the city.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 6, 2012.