Feed The Children, ex-CEO J.C. Watts settle lawsuits

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City-based charity Feed The Children and former CEO and President J.C. Watts have settled lawsuits against each other over Watts’ firing in 2016.

The two agreed to the dismissal of the lawsuits and that they cannot be refiled, according to Oklahoma County District Court documents filed July 11, adding that each side will pay their own attorney’s fees and costs.

Attorneys did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday for comment.

Watts, 61, is a well-known Oklahoma native, who was a Republican U.S. Representative from 1995-2003 and a former University of Oklahoma football quarterback, and became CEO and president of Feed The Children on Feb. 1, 2016.

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He was fired nine months later and sued the charity in April 2017, alleging he was fired for reporting alleged financial and other problems at the charity to the state attorney general’s office.

Feed The Children counter-sued, saying Watts’ dismissal had been discussed prior to the special board meeting during which he was terminated.

“Several discussions pertaining to (Watts’) insubordinate, dishonest and improper conduct, his failings as President and Chief Executive Officer and the termination of (Watts’) employment, took place prior to” the Nov. 4, 2016, special board meeting, according to the counter-suit.

Feed The Children was founded in 1979 and works to end childhood hunger both domestically and abroad, providing food, water, educational supplies, medicine and disaster relief in the U.S. and internationally.

Feed The Children is ranked the 34th largest charity in the United States in 2018 by Forbes and became widely known for founder Larry Jones’ televised pleas for donations as a child sat at his side.

Jones gave up operational control of the company in August 2009 during a power struggle with the board for control of the company and was fired as CEO and president in November of that year after board members learned he had installed recording devices in the offices of other executives with the charity.

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