The New York Times reported on Friday that a 23-page internal report issued by a committee formed by the joint boards of the Shriners of North America fraternal organization and the Shriners Hospitals for Children found that Bro. Ralph Semb, chairman of the Shriners Hospitals Board of Trustees, and Bro. Gene Bracewell, the Imperial Treasurer of the fraternal Shriner organization, violated both organizations' conflict of interest policies as well as their ethics codes and recommended that they be "reprimanded."
The committee's recommendation was ignored. No punitive action was taken against Semb or Bracewell, both of whom deny any wrongdoing.
Bro. Bernard J. Lemieux, a medical doctor, who headed the joint boards at the time the investigative panel was formed, defended the boards' decision not to punish Semb and Bracewell. He said in an email messages the boards had concluded no reprimand "was warranted or necessary."
The Shriners Hospital board controls an eight billion dollar ($8,000,000,000) endowment.
A fundraising program which operated from 1999 to 2003 netted $46.2 million. Of that amount, only $2.5 million made it to the hospitals.
Investigations as far back as the 1980's have shown that only two to 25 percent of all that spare change you toss into the buckets at intersections manned by fez-headed Masons makes it to the children's hospitals. It seems someone else is pocketing all that cash. Who could it be?
The interim report said that a "comprehensive continuing investigation" was needed. The boards of the Shrine and its hospitals, which share members, voted to disband the panel before it had finished its investigations.
When Bro. Mahlon Hessey, one of the members of the investigating committee, tried to present the committee's findings at the annual Shrine meeting last month in St. Louis, he was booed and heckled off the stage. Some Masons picked to be on the committee when it was formed refused to accept the appointment due to fear of reprisals by those being investigated.
Read the "Interim Report of the Special Investigative Committee of the Joint Boards of Shriners Hospitals for Children."
The collected works of Sandy Frost over the past two years helped lead to the recent article by NY Times reporter Stephanie Strom.
Image 1: Bernard J. Lemieux, immediate Past Potentate of the Shrine and past chairman of the board of trustees of the Shiners Hospitals
Image 2: Ralph Semb, chairman of the Shriners Hospitals Board of Trustees
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