“I definitely don’t talk about it,” Ufot said when asked about the allegations. “[The administrator] He left the New Georgia Project because [they] They weren’t so good at [their] job. And that’s all I’m going to say.»
Wilson said the manager called him after his firing and expressed concern about what the allegations would mean for his future employment. He said he offered himself as a job reference but has not spoken to the person since.
The administrator declined to comment. Four former New Georgia Project employees said they had been informed simultaneously or after the fact that the administrator had withdrawn money from the organization without proper authorization, raising ongoing questions about financial controls.
POLITICO obtained records of two Wells Fargo bank accounts controlled by the New Georgia Project, which had been turned over to the state Ethics Commission as part of its investigation into possible violations of its tax status. The administrator’s name appears on memo lines of Wells Fargo bank account transactions, a copy of which was provided by the state to POLITICO in response to an open records request. There were 16 outbound transactions totaling $57,693 from mid-2017 to mid-2019, matching the approximately $50,000 mentioned in information received by Wilson.
Current New Georgia Project leaders declined to answer questions about the administrator since the retirements occurred before his tenure.
«I have no knowledge of that,» Cotton said, «and only a fool would talk about something he has no direct understanding of.»
Johnson also declined to talk about it. «I don’t have any situational knowledge about it,» he said.
The consequences of the The Wells Fargo accounts continued after the former manager was fired and eventually led to the dismissal of the group’s chief financial officer and Ufot itself.
Ufot said it received multiple fraud alerts from the bank, flagging withdrawals that the bank considered suspicious. At first, he said, he ignored them, but when they started coming “regularly,” he alerted Randall Frazier, then the group’s chief financial officer.
«So periodically, when they come in, whatever,» Ufot said of the alerts, «but when they started coming in, regularly, I reached out to our CFO and said, ‘Help me understand what’s going on.’ And then he told me to call Wells Fargo and file fraud claims. And that’s exactly what I did.»
However, Ufot said, she never officially filed the claims because “we started and then they asked me a bunch of questions and wanted to close the business.” [company] letters immediately, like, while making the claim.” He explained that other members of the organization used these cards and that he did not want to disrupt business operations without warning.
“We started applying and then I asked for a pause so I could consult with our CFO,” he said.
Separately, New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund, in their two most recent 990 filings, claim that Ufot itself owes the organizations thousands of fiscal year 2021 dollars for what Johnson said were “expenses that must be reimbursed to the organization.»
The New Georgia Project reported that Ufot received a salary advance of $8,865 in 2021 that has not been “corrected” and the New Georgia Project Action Fund noted that Ufot owed the 501(c)4 arm $4,377, according to the respective sections of the Schedule L of Form 990.