FSC & Lyon Allegations

Gretchen Gallen
CANOGA PARK, Calif. -- Just on the heels of electing new Board Members and welcoming in a new era for the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), allegations continue to linger over the real reason behind former Executive Director Bill Lyon's departure from the helm at FSC.

Lyon stepped down from his directorship in October for personal reasons and a clearly stated desire to move on to other projects after several full and productive years at FSC. Although allegations continue to abound that Lyon was asked to resign from his post for improperly using FSC funds.

Some sources allege that Lyon used coalition funds for many personal purchases, including an engagement ring and cash advances.

"I would never have done anything like that," Bill Lyon told XBiz in response to the suggestion that he improperly used FSC money for his own benefit.

At the time of Lyon's directorship, Scott Tucker, chief executive officer for Topco Sales, served as president of the organization and was responsible for auditing FSC expenses among many other ongoing responsibilities.

Both Tucker and Lyon served on the Board during the same four-year period. Tucker told XBiz that he was not aware of any improprieties on Lyon's behalf. Tucker himself resigned several months after Lyon for personal business and family reasons.

Tucker's spot as president has since been replaced by Nick Boyias, and Lyon has been replaced by Kat Sunlove, former legislative affairs director for FSC.

In response to questions involving his responsibility as overseer of the FSC coffers, Tucker told XBiz that to his knowledge, the FSC Board is taking all appropriate action to resolve the matter.

"The Board felt our membership needed to know that we were looking further into the allegations and investigating to determine what exactly took place," Tucker told XBiz. "Until the Board is able to evaluate exactly what transpired, during this period of due diligence, I would be unable to comment."

Tucker added that the Board has been "on top of this" since day one.

On the eve of the FSC's general membership meeting on Jan 23, at which interim Executive Director Kat Sunlove welcomed seven new Board Members to the FSC Board of Directors, the issue of Lyon's departure was once again addressed in an official FSC statement.

"During the last six months, in the course of the Board's oversight of Free Speech Coalition operations, questions arose concerning significant amounts of Free Speech Coalition funds, including credit card expenditures and other financial irregularities," the statement read.

"The Board designated one of its members to discuss these questions with then-Executive Director Bill Lyon. During this discussion, and in discussions with at least two others who were then members of the Board, Lyon gave answers which were unacceptable to the Board. The Board's decision to terminate Lyon came from these answers. The decision to terminate Lyon was unanimous."

"The Board will continue to investigate matters surrounding the Lyon questions and seek reimbursement for any monies lost. But more than that, it is establishing rigorous oversight procedures in the future," the statement read.

Kat Sunlove was not available for comment at the time of this printing. Jeffrey Douglas, chairman of the FSC Board told XBiz that he stands behind the official FSC statement and has no further comment.

The FSC Board is currently launching a search committee to fill the executive director position that Sunlove agreed to fill on an interim basis after Lyon departed.

"The position will be advertised widely, and the search committee looks forward to a thorough, competitive, and productive selection process," the Board said in a statement.