June 23rd, 2020
Dear Morgan Family,
Last week, former AMHA director Vicki Bennett circulated an email making a number of accusations concerning the stewardship of AMHA’s funds. As many of you may know, Ms. Bennett is engaged in a lawsuit against fourteen current and former directors of our Association. This is not the first such diatribe Ms. Bennett has distributed, nor is it likely to be the last. While I do not intend to respond to every one of Ms. Bennett’s allegations, I do want to make one thing clear: the AMHA Board and I take our fiduciary obligations to the Association very seriously, and constantly strive to act in the best interests of AMHA and the Morgan Horse Breed, with the assistance and guidance of our legal and accounting advisors.
Ms. Bennett and the AMHA Board have some honest disagreements on some topics. However, many of the accusations detailed in her emails are misinformed or simply wrong. For example, Ms. Bennett—whose lawsuit has already cost AMHA many tens of thousands of dollars—claims that it is the AMHA Board’s fault that her suit is costing AMHA money, suggesting that the Board failed to procure insurance coverage. THIS IS UNTRUE. In fact, AMHA has a D&O insurance policy and has made a claim for coverage under that policy in an effort to protect AMHA from the financial consequences of Ms. Bennett’s lawsuit. Unfortunately, the insurance carrier has initially denied coverage. This is not the end of the road: AMHA’s Board has initiated a lawsuit to attempt to secure coverage and has a strong likelihood of succeeding. ( Additional information concerning that lawsuit can be found on AMHA’s litigation webpage here: https://www.morganhorse.com/about/litigation-updates/ )
Additionally, in the event that the defendants prevail in having Ms. Bennett’s suit dismissed, they will be entitled, under AMHA’s bylaws, to recover legal costs from Ms. Bennett—and they intend to do so. AMHA should not have to bear the costs of Ms. Bennett’s baseless lawsuit.
Ms. Bennett also raises various concerns relating to the management of three trusts, the Registry Trust, Epperson Trust, and Museum Fund. To answer the question posed in the subject line of her latest email — “Where have $785,000 of AMHA Trust Funds Gone?” — the funds are safe and sound. The Trusts’ funds remain dedicated to the purposes for which each of the Trusts were established, and, to the extent Ms. Bennett suggests otherwise, she is mistaken. AMHA has housed the Trusts within the Vermont Community Foundation at present but continues to evaluate how they will be most appropriately and effectively administered to ensure that they will serve their purpose well into the future.
The AMHA Board remains committed to preserving the financial well-being of the Association and the vitality of its mission, and endeavors to be transparent in its governance. Ms. Bennett’s attacks, while her prerogative, are an unfortunate distraction from the work we do on behalf of the Morgan breed. We will continue to do what we can to focus the Association’s efforts—and its financial resources—as we move forward in this very difficult time.
C. A. Lee, III