Feed The Children Fires Founder Larry Jones

November 9, 2009       Mark Hrywna      

Less than three months after giving up control of the organization, Larry Jones was terminated from Feed The Children, the organization he started 30 years ago.

Jones was fired this past Friday after a tumultuous year that has seen several lawsuits, a power struggle for control over the billion-dollar charity, and accusations of wiretapping. He plans to file a wrongful termination suit, according to published reports, which would add to the several lawsuits already filed against the Oklahoma City, Okla., charity this year.

FTC released a three-sentence statement: “The board of directors of Feed The Children announced today that Larry Jones’ employment and office as president has been terminated effective immediately. Travis Arnold, executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been named as interim president of Feed The Children. The board of directors will form a search committee to study and implement procedures to fill the position on a permanent basis.”

An official at the charity said there would be no further comment while Jones and his attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Jones and his wife Frances, who was not fired, are well known for their fundraising over the years through direct response television.

Jones relinquished control of day-to-day operations of the organization in August as part of a settlement with the Board of Directors, expecting to continue to be the face of Feed The Children, with fundraising responsibilities. An internal power struggle had been brewing for more than a year, with Jones ousting a faction of the board late in 2008 and a court battle ensuing over board membership through much of this year. Ultimately, a judge reinstated the original members of the board, who backed Larry’s daughter, general counsel Larri Sue Jones and other key executives.

Jones allegedly had installed microphones in the offices of several board members and officers at FTC, including his daughter, Arnold and Chief Financial Officer Christy Tharp. In a lawsuit filed last month by two finance employees who were terminated, Tharp was accused of not reporting tax liabilities to the state over the course several years. That’s in addition to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by two employees who believe they were terminated for reporting higher-level managers had engaged in inappropriate conduct through the use of emails.