Ohio Republican Congressman Mike Turner is looking into the finances of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. The investigation was launched in response to allegations by a board member of financial mismanagement and misappropriation of resources.
Turner stopped short of alleging any wrongdoing by National Aviation Hall of Fame officials, but he called the complaints against the organization a matter of, “grave concern.”
“They have a very privileged spot at the National Air Force Museum. Our community has contributed tens of millions of dollars for their operations. They have over a million people a year who walk by their front door and still yet they haven’t been able to financially survive,” Turner says.
Turner has sent a letter to the Hall of Fame’s chair and board of trustees outlining his concerns and requesting full access to the organization’s internal documents by early March.
Hall of Fame officials say they're cooperating with the investigation despite not yet receiving Turner’s letter.
In a written statement, National Aviation Hall of Fame Chairman Bill Harris said, "we welcome any additional audit and/or financial review beyond the annual audit that is conducted at the NAHF."
The statement continued to say: "please be assured that all audits have been done by an independent firm and all the recommended controls by them have been implemented as we have been rebuilding. All IRS forms have been filed. Additionally, as you know, we have two local Dayton CPAs in leadership positions on our board. I have complete confidence in our finances."
The Hall of Fame is based at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. It was founded in Dayton in 1962 and was chartered by Congress in 1964.
Last month officials announced plans to relocate its annual enshrinement ceremony from Dayton to Fort Worth, Texas.
In his statement Harris said, "the Board of Trustees were asked to make a very difficult decision this past year and after much deliberation, it was decided by vote to move the enshrinement ceremony from Dayton to Texas. With a move such as this, it is not unexpected that we would undergo extra scrutiny."
Congressman Turner called the move a bad decision and was involved in efforts to keep the popular ceremony in Dayton. Still, Turner clarified the move to Texas is not related to his current investigation.
“It’s my goal to work with the Hall of Fame, identify their areas of expenses, their strategic planning goal, and what they need and pull the community together in hopes of making certain their congressionally chartered mission of supporting the historical stories of those who have contributed to aviation can continue.”