The fundraising nonprofit embroiled in a legal dispute with Oklahoma’s public TV network defied an eviction notice to leave its office space within the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.
On Dec. 14, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority Board gave the foundation until Jan. 13 to remove its office and staff from the building. The foundation president told Current it has no reason to leave.
The sibling organizations have been battling to redefine the terms of their relationship in an internal squabble that hit the courts last month. The network board voted to cut ties with the foundation Jan. 8 and announced it would form a new fundraising nonprofit. Oklahoma Secretary of State documents show that new nonprofit, Friends of OETA, was incorporated Nov. 30.
OETA Foundation President Daphne Dowdy told Current that the organization was not vacating its offices because “we don’t have a lease with OETA.” Dowdy said the foundation “built our office decades ago.”
“We have maintained, insured and occupied our space since the 1980s,” without a lease, she said.
Dowdy also said the foundation will continue its fundraising work for OETA.
OETA’s action to sever ties with the organization “does not dissolve the foundation,” she said. “We are a separate, independent organization.”
OETA Executive Director Polly Anderson said in an email to Current that the network “will pursue all legal avenues to enforce the removal of the foundation.”
In a statement released earlier this month, OETA Board Chair Garrett King said it was unfortunate that OETA had to resort to evicting the foundation from its headquarters. “We were left with no other option after the OETA Foundation began changing locks, attempting to make alterations to OETA’s building, denying access to part of OETA’s building, interfering with day to day operations and attempting to hack OETA’s computer network,” he said.
This post has been updated with comment from Anderson.