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John C. Goodman: NCPA Board is ‘Scared,’ Amateurish—And ‘Grasping at Straws’

The saga of John C. Goodman, former president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, is fast becoming worthy of a TV soap opera. Yesterday, the right-leaning, Dallas-based think tank said it had ousted its nationally known founding president by a unanimous vote of its board, for reasons that would remain undisclosed. Then came a story in Friday’s Dallas Morning News in which Goodman called the NCPA vote a “coup” by the board, caused by disagreement over the organization’s management. He characterized the underlying problems as trivial and petty, adding, “Dallas needs a think tank. But Dallas is proving that it’s not ready for it.” This afternoon the NCPA fired back with both shotgun barrels, saying in a statement that Goodman was terminated “after an extensive investigation that found sexual misconduct and breach of fiduciary duty.” That was “not true,” Goodman told the DMN.

And, reached by cellphone this afternoon, the NCPA’s former leader seemed anything but contrite. Goodman contended the vote by the group’s 13-person board was not unanimous, as it was characterized, because just half the board members were present—and most of the members who “are supportive of me” were absent. He also said the organization proposed and discarded a number of reasons for his termination, seeking to find one that would stick. “They’ve had five different reasons for why they fired me,” Goodman said. “They sat with us, and our labor lawyer said, ‘That reason would violate federal labor law.’ Then they gave a second reason … then a third. They went through five reasons. Under labor law, if you want to fire someone and keep shifting the reason, you have a serious problem.

“I make $500,000 a year,” Goodman went on, alluding to his legal alternatives. “I could work for 10 more years, which means I just lost $5 million. Add in punitive damages of three times that, and you get [close] to $20 million. Well, their current budget is just $5 million. If I’m right and they’re wrong, they would be in serious trouble.” Goodman then took another shot at the board, saying it’s been meeting every day recently at 10 a.m. “Have you ever heard of a board meeting that often?” he said. “They’re grasping at straws. This is amateur hour! … They’re scared. And they should be scared, because they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Asked why the NCPA had disclosed the specific charges against Goodman after vowing on Thursday not to elaborate, NCPA spokeswoman Catherine Daniell said, “We’d hoped to deal with it in a very professional manner, without a lot of detail. But since Goodman’s made a lot of unfounded accusations, we felt like we were forced into a position of coming forth with more information for the sake of accuracy.” And, what about his allegation that the board was grasping at straws in settling on a reason for the termination? “I’ll go back to the [Friday] statement,” Daniell said. “We stand by the statement.”

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.