The Charges Against Ward Akers, Part III
For the last two weeks we’ve been exploring the charges against Ward Akers, a topic we have been asked about several times. To recap, on July 1, 1975, Larry Brinton in the Nashville Banner raised questions concerning Akers’ salary, nepotism in the Council office, and some generally questionable practices of the Council, specifically concerning
trips and reimbursements. He followed up these charges 2 days later with accusations that the Council was trying to bury the publicity in hopes it would go away. Undeterred, Brinton pressed forward and a week after the first accusations, he then charged Akers with violating the Council’s own policy of no professional holding an outside position or interest. Akers was an investor in Camp Hy-Lake and his eldest son Ward E. Akers ran the camp.
It was clear by this point it was not going to be possible to completely bury this story without doing *something*. Money was clearly one motivator here. The United Way, where a percentage of Council funding came from, was demanding documentation that funds were being spent appropriately. Further, the Council’s own fund raising efforts (the SME campaign that year) was well short of its goal. Given this reality and the accusations, it seemed that some sort of investigation was warranted. Indeed, for the good of the program and the Council’s reputation, a thorough audit could only be a good thing. And so despite some members of the executive board being opposed, such as former Linton Boxwell camper and former Judge and Metro Mayor Beverly Briley, a “blue ribbon committee” was formed.
At a meeting at Boxwell on Thursday evening, July 10, the Executive Board announced a “no stone unturned” review. Ad Hoc Committees were established to investigate the following areas: Accounting, Administration, Budget, Ethics, Program, and Salary. Still, the Council was going to control the situation as best it could. The names of the Committee chairs would be released, but there would be no discussion of their work until said work was concluded. In other words, they could conduct their investigations without further interference from Brinton.
And the kicker? Ward and his wife/secretary Elizabeth Akers agreed to “step aside,” “temporarily relinquish[ing] their duties” while the investigation was conducted. This was July 10, 1975. The “Blue Ribbon” Committee work would not be complete until the first week of October, 1975, 44 years ago this month…
Larry Brinton, “Akers Steps Aside During Full Review of Scout Program,” The Nashville Banner, July 11, 1975, pg. 1, 18.