The Board of Directors of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade has accepted the resignation of member and former chairman John Dunleavy tendered by him last Wednesday evening – even though he tried to rescind it the next day.
Dunleavy, who four years ago began a series of legal actions against the parade that are still winding their way through Bronx Supreme Court, gave his resignation during a meeting of the parade’s board which unanimously voted in favor of union leader James T. Callahan as grand marshal of the 2020 march.
Several sources told the Irish Voice that Dunleavy demanded to see audits of the parade’s finances and that he called other board members “crooks” during the meeting.
Sean Lane, the chairman of the board, told Dunleavy that he was facing expulsion for the outburst. At that point, Dunleavy said he would resign. Lane accepted the resignation, wished Dunleavy well and offered him tickets to any upcoming parade events.
However, the next afternoon Dunleavy sent an email to board members to “formally rescind my resignation…any decision to resign from a not-for-profit corporation should not be taken lightly and should not be done in the heat of the moment,” the email said.
“I felt compelled under duress to abruptly resign from the parade board because Chairman Sean Lane unexpectedly made a motion to expel me since I asked him to provide the parade board with the audited financial statements of the corporation. Mr. Lane refused to provide the parade board with the audited financial statements and specifically pointed me out when he said he will not provide any financial information to someone who is suing us.”
One source told the Irish Voice, “Dunleavy has some nerve looking for financial statements given that thousands of dollars were spent during his chairmanship without any kind of proper approval, and he’s made no attempt to pay any of the funds back.”
In June of 2015, Dunleavy was ousted from his long-standing position as chairman of the parade board because of his vocal opposition to gay groups marching. At that time he was also looking to negotiate a new TV contract with a network other than WNBC, which aired – and continues to air – the parade live. Dunleavy was known to be angry that NBC’s LGBT employee group became the first gay group to march in the parade in 2015.
Later that year, the parade’s then-chairman, Dr. John Lahey, ordered a forensic audit of the parade’s finances which showed Dunleavy spent some $24,000 on trips to Myrtle Beach and Washington, D.C., and $2,000 in other expenses including doctor bills and a male enhancement supplement.
In October of 2015, Dunleavy began his legal actions against the parade, alleging that he was illegally removed from his chairmanship and that Lahey and former board member Frank Comerford conspired to keep the parade TV contract with WNBC. He and his attorney Francis X. Young are still pursuing what remains of his case in Bronx Supreme Court and the legal fees continue to mount for the parade board – six figures and counting, “funds that could have and should have been used for scholarships,” a source said.
Dunleavy’s email last week said he was distressed at being accused of misusing parade funds.
“My reaction to resign reflects the emotional and psychological toll the constant grind of these past four years have taken upon me,” he wrote. “To be falsely and publicly accused by certain members of the parade board of misappropriating parade funds on several trips to Washington, D.C. have inflicted severe emotional distress upon my family and me. They falsely claimed that these trips have no indication of being related to company business, let alone that they had prior approval by the corporation.”
Dunleavy went on to say that the trips were undertaken to “strengthen [the parade’s] relationship with the military.” He also accused the parade’s current leadership of “violating their fiduciary duties to provide meaningful oversight of the finances of the corporation…there is already one report on file prepared by a well respected, not for profit law firm at the request of one of our directors which details a litany of potential violations.”
Though Dunleavy wrote that the parade board “did not vote to formally accept my resignation,” and therefore he would “formally” rescind it, the board maintains that at no point was Dunleavy forced to resign.
“His resignation has been accepted,” a source told the Irish Voice. “The fact is that he’s been suing the parade for several years now and criticizing the leadership.”