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Feed The Children board fires founder Larry Jones

BY NOLAN CLAY Published: November 7, 2009
Feed The Children President Larry Jones was fired Friday from the charity he founded 30 years ago. He plans to sue to try to get his job back.

The charity’s board of directors voted to terminate Jones’ employment "effective immediately.” The directors did not give a reason. The charity paid Jones $230,323 a year, records show.

"There’s going to be thousands of children go hungry this Christmas because of what they did,” Jones, 69, told The Oklahoman.

The firing came after Jones admitted to the charity’s investigator and to police that he authorized the installation of hidden microphones in three executives’ offices last April. "I did nothing wrong there. … I knew what the law was… They used wiretapping as the excuse,” Jones said Friday.

Jones has been the face of the Oklahoma City-based Christian relief organization. It reports collecting more than $1 billion in donations a year.

He and his wife, Frances, were the main fundraisers, making repeated, often heart-wrenching televised pleas for money to help starving children in Africa and elsewhere. The charity has become widely known through the commercials and from celebrities’ support. Frances Jones was not fired.

"This is the best two months of the year to raise money, and we’re down like everybody else is down. There’s more hungry children than ever, and they fire me,” Larry Jones said.

"I was in such shock,” he said. "I thought they had enough foresight to see that this is by far the best time of the year to raise money. … This makes absolutely no sense — none at all. Already, people are calling, saying, "Larry, if you’re not at Feed The Children, we’re not going to do these projects.’ … Thirty years of hard work down the drain.”

Jones said Friday he thinks directors fired him because he got a judge on Thursday to temporarily bar them from using charity funds to pay legal fees.

Leadership turmoil
Jones has been in a legal dispute with most of the charity’s board and top executives over who is really in charge there. A lawsuit about the power struggle was settled in August when Jones agreed to give up operational control.

Those at odds with Jones include his own daughter, Larri Sue Jones, who is Feed The Children’s general counsel.

Jones last December had several directors removed from the board. He had his daughter and other top executives fired. He acted after discovering they planned to force him to take a sabbatical. Ongoing coverage: Feed the Children