Editor's Note: The article was updated on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. with the most recent copy of the lawsuit.
The DTH Media Corp., the parent company of The Daily Tar Heel, filed a legal complaint against the UNC System and Board of Governors Tuesday, claiming that the BOG violated the Open Meetings Law when meeting about the Silent Sam settlement.
The UNC System entered into two agreements in November 2019 with the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans. On Nov. 21, the system agreed to pay $74,999 to limit the SCV’s actions on system campuses. On Nov. 27, the system gave the SCV possession of Silent Sam and a $2.5 million trust for its preservation in a settlement agreement.
“…both agreements with the SCV were conceived, negotiated, approved, and executed in total secrecy in violation of the Open Meetings Law,” the legal complaint from DTH Media Corp. said.
In a Dec. 16 editorial that appeared in the News & Observer, five members of the BOG (Jim Holmes, Darrell Allison, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho) defended the Silent Sam settlement agreement and disclosed the $74,999 agreement.
“The Board of Governors tasked us to work with UNC-Chapel Hill to review other options that would accomplish all of the board’s directives,” they said in the editorial.
The members said in the editorial that they brought their proposed settlement to the BOG’s Governance Committee. They said the authority to settle this matter fell under Section 200.5 of the UNC Policy Manual, which outlines the situations in which the Committee has this authority.
The DTH Media Corp. complaint said the group of BOG members that negotiated the SCV agreements is a “public body,” meaning they are required under North Carolina Public Meetings Law to conduct public meetings, give public notice of them and keep minutes of them.