In our last post, we spoke about how the chorus of cynics had been threatening to swamp all the good that Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti charity has been doing.
Well it seems now that the tide may be turning.
Wyclef held a press conference in New York City today where he defended Yele and his role in it, breaking down in tears towards the end as he spoke in Creole to the Haitians listening.
Yele President Hugh Locke, defending the charity in more detail, admitted they had been lax on their accounting.
“On the books, it looks as though there was a benefit, but there was not. “It was not done with the intent to do anything other than be efficient.
… We should have been on top of it; we were not.”
Even more importantly, significant charity and tax accounting experts have come to Yele’s defence as well.
In a CNN report, Marcus Owen, former chief of the IRS unit that oversees non-profits, noted that like Yele did with the Wyclef concert at the center of the controversy, it is routine for individuals to charge their own charities, as long as services are being provided in return.
The report also stated that Owen pointed out that the filing which stated that Yele’s rent charges were ‘below market’ was “an important distinction supporting legitimacy” as “rules require that they be at no more than market value.”
Other experts were willing to give Yele the bligh they deserve as well.
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy in Chicago said:
“They could be well-intentioned, but not take [tax] reporting seriously.”
Art Taylor, chief executive of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance noted that Wyclef’s star power and links in Haiti were crucial for Haiti in the long run.
“Maybe six months to a year from now, when the attention of the world turns away from Haiti and moves to something else, his value as a Haitian and a celebrity will be far greater than it is now.”