VisitDallas CEO Phillip Jones is an avid cyclist and triathlete. Jonathan Zizzo

Nonprofits

Did Phillip Jones Borrow $35,000 From VisitDallas to Go to Hawaii?

The questions about this guy just keep multiplying.

It has now been a week since I first called and emailed Frank Librio at VisitDallas to ask him some questions about a $35,000 “pay advance” that CEO Phillip Jones received in 2015, a year in which his compensation totaled $670,000. I tried Librio again yesterday. And this morning. He has answered questions from real estate blogger Candy Evans. But he hasn’t called me back. This hurts my feelings. It also leaves me with yet more questions about his boss.

First, to recap: according to VisitDallas’ 990 form filed for 2015, the most recent available, Jones borrowed $35,000 from the nonprofit of which he is CEO. His balance due, however, was listed as $135,000. Librio told Evans that the $35,000 loan was “tied to a private family issue” with the Joneses’ adult son, who is disabled and prefers to live in a Southlake house owned by Jones and his wife, while Jones himself lives in a downtown Dallas condo. And, as I reported yesterday, state law allows nonprofits to loan their officers money only if the loan “may reasonably be expected to directly or indirectly benefit the [nonprofit].”

That’s what we know so far. Now here’s some new stuff about the Joneses’ disabled adult son and the year 2015, which was a big one indeed for Jones:

In October of that year, Jones got to cross off an item from his bucket list. After a decade of hard work, he finally got to compete in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in the Ironman World Championship, presented by GoPro. The Dallas Morning News reported:

For Jones, Hawaii is more than the completion of a long-term goal. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a personal cause: to eradicate Lyme disease. Jones’ 25-year-old son contracted the debilitating disease from a tick bite four years ago.

According to this page, in competing in the triathlon, Jones raised a total of $11,905 for the Texas Lyme Disease Association (falling a bit short, it must be noted, of his $14,060 goal). He finished in 12 hours, 38 minutes, which put him about four hours off the winning pace and four hours ahead of the last place finish. Not bad for a dude in the age 50-54 division.

Anyway, now I’ve got many more questions. But I’ll pose just three of them here. 1) Did Jones borrow $35,000 to pay for a trip to Hawaii to compete in a triathlon? 2) Could participating in a triathlon to raise money for Lyme disease be considered a private family issue concerning Jones’ disabled adult son? And, finally, 3) if the answers to the previous two questions aren’t “no,” how does all this satisfy the state requirement that such a loan from a nonprofit be made only when the loan can reasonably be expected to directly or indirectly benefit the nonprofit?

One caveat: I might be so far off base with these questions. If only Frank Librio would put an end to my irresponsible conjecturing.

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