NEW YORK – An internal management struggle in a conservative senior-citizen advocacy organization that competes with the left-leaning AARP has been exposed by a lawsuit filed by the group’s founder.
James L. Martin, a Marine veteran with a decades-long career as a Washington-based conservative activist with close ties to former President George W. Bush, is asking the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, Virginia, to declare that he remains the board chairman of the non-profit 60 Plus Association.
The complaint also petitions the court to issue a temporary injunction barring the organization’s president, Amy Noone Frederick, and any other employee or officer from issuing any payments without the prior written authorization of the organization’s treasurer, L. Prather McKinnon.
McKinnon, a member of the board of trustees under Martin’s leadership, is also a plaintiff to the lawsuit.
Jim Martin, in a telephone interview with WND on Tuesday, affirmed that in his view, he remains the chairman of the organization and a member of the 60 Plus board of directors.
For nearly 25 years, 60 Plus has established itself as a conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons, better known as the AARP, with more than 7 million subscribers. Its national spokesman is legendary entertainer Pat Boone.
Martin is represented by well known Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, who is a partner with her husband, former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova, in the law firm diGenova & Toensing.
‘A new calling’
Martin contends his announced resignation as chairman was never effective. He argues his Feb. 22, 2015, memorandum to the board contained a condition that “the timing of the transition announcement” depended on the search committee finding a successor.
On April 23, 2015, 60 Plus issued a press release announcing that Martin “is closing out his career at 60 Plus” to “shift his focus away from the political arena” and to pursue “a new calling.” The April press release was not posted on the organization’s website.
On June 30, 2015, Martin emailed Frederick and the other board members, saying that “[b]y now I expected that a new Chairman … would have been … approved … but that has not happened. … I cannot in good conscience resign until the board has approved a successor so I am not resigning at this time.”
Nevertheless, on July 1, 2015, a notice similar to the April press release was posted on the 60 Plus website announcing Martin was stepping down that day.
“Today as Jim Martin steps down,” the statement said, “we honor all he has achieved, and all he has given of himself for our nation and future generations. He will continue to serve seniors and work to improve their quality of life in his non-political role as the head of the 60 Plus Foundation.”
On May 19, 2015, Martin spoke to veteran Washington reporter John Gizzi about his future plans.
“I’m leaving 60 Plus on July 1. And I’m going to make a transition to our foundation, where there are less slings and arrows flung at me,” Martin said.
He told Gizzi he wanted “to set the record straight” about his plans.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m retiring. I’m only 79, and that’s too young to retire,” deadpanned Martin, who still plays in seniors’ basketball league and occasionally substitutes on the Republican team in the congressional basketball league. “Just watch me shoot hoops!”
‘Face’ of the organization
Toensing noted in the complaint that 60 Plus President Amy Frederick, despite arguing that Martin had resigned as chairman effective July 1, 2015, filed an annual report with the Virginia State Corporation on July 27, 2015, designating Martin as a director and officer.
Frederick signed above the printed warning that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia for anyone to sign a document that is false in any material respect, Toensing pointed out.
The attorney further argued in the complaint that since July 1, 2015, 60 Plus has continued to allow Washington-based direct-mail vendor ForthRight Strategies Inc. to send out mass mailings to raise funds with Martin’s facsimile signature, describing him as “chairman” of the organization.
“As the Founder and Chairman of 60 Plus for 24 years, Mr. Martin is considered the ‘face’ of the corporation and essential to successful fundraising appeals,” Toensing wrote.
ForthRight Strategies responded with “no comment” to a WND request for an interview on the 60 Plus dispute.
While Amy Frederick has not responded to WND requests for an interview, Gerry Scimeca, the director of media relations for 60 Plus, sent a statement Frederick issued “through counsel.”
“We are disappointed that Mr. Martin has chosen to pursue this unfortunate course of action,” said Fredrick, who is represented by Seth Berenzweig. “We believe these claims are unsound and filled with false allegations, and also believe that the court will dismiss this lawsuit in the near future.”
In the complaint, Toensing also alleged that in the summer of 2015, Martin obtained copies of 60 Plus canceled checks documenting that over a four-year period, from February 2010 through May 2014, Frederick had signed checks totaling $589,770 to two companies owned by her husband, Jeffrey Frederick, Gen-X Strategies Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary ChargedContribution.com .
The complaint further claimed that subsequent review of additional bank statements from a second bank, Chain Bridge Bank, for the period of June 2014 through October 2015, showed an additional $207,731.85 was paid to Jeffrey Frederick’s companies, for a total of $795,502.07.
Toensing’s complaint noted that a review of 60 Plus IRS Form 990s — required annually as a non-profit tax filing — answered “No” to question 28(c), which asks whether or not the organization was “party to a business transaction” with an “entity of which a current or former officer, director, trustee, or key employee (or a family member thereof) was an officer, director, trustee, or direct or indirect owner.”
Jeff Frederick, in an interview with WND, insisted that all invoices submitted to 60 Plus were completely legitimate, in accordance with signed contracts, and paid after work under contract was completed to the satisfaction of 60 Plus management.
“Jim Martin as chairman 60 Plus signed the contract to begin working with my companies in 2000,” Jeff Frederick told WND. “In fact, Jim Martin was the person who introduced me to Amy, my future wife. Amy, at the time Jim introduced us, was working as staff with 60 Plus.”
Frederick also asserted the payments made to his companies by 60 Plus were not excessive or exceptional, but were within industry standards.
“The amount of money 60 Plus paid us is dwarfed when compared to the fees organizations like 60 Plus pay television venders to produce and run television advertisements,” he argued.
“You also have to take into consideration that my company has been doing business with 60 Plus since 2000. That’s 16 years,” he said. “So you can add up the money over 16 years, and it looks like a big number,.”
He further argued that it was Martin “who delegated to Amy the responsibility to work for 60 Plus with my company.”
Jeff Frederick married the former Amy Noone in 2001. Amy Noone Frederick, who began working in a staff position with 60 Plus in 2000, was named president of 60 Plus in 2010.
In the complaint, Toensing claimed Amy Frederick has “ignored repeated requests, despite resolutions from the Board directing her to appear and explain the payments to her husband’s companies and the apparently false IRS filings.”
Toensing’s complaint also noted the board of 60 Plus first learned from an article published by Politico on May 4, 2015, that Amy Frederick had accepted a position as a “senior adviser” with Carly Fiorina’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The Politico article described Frederick as “most recently head of the 60 Plus organization.”
FEC disclosure records show Amy Frederick was paid $12,500 monthly by the Fiorina campaign, while she continued to draw a full salary of $15,000 monthly, plus benefits, from 60 Plus.
Toensing commented that she drew a full salary “despite a marked decrease in her availability to and time spent for the Corporation (60 Plus) resulting from her position with the campaign.”
Disclosure: Since 2008, the author of this article has been compensated by ForthRight Strategies for use of his name and his published writings, including books, to solicit funds via direct mail for the campaigns of conservative candidates for public office.