Head of powerful conservative think tank brought down by office romance gone wrong
The CEO of one of the most powerful conservative think tanks in the country has been ousted from his position after a series of revelations concerning a romance with a subordinate that went badly wrong.
According to Dallas’ D Magazine, John Goodman of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) was ousted by the group’s board of directors in June for “sexual misconduct and breach of fiduciary duty.”
Goodman, 68, founded the center more than 31 years ago and has long served as its president and CEO. He has advised Republican politicians like former President George W. Bush as well as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA). Goodman is known to many as “the father of health savings accounts,” an anti-Obamacare proposal that the GOP floated as a possible alternative to the current health care system.
Now, the think tank’s board has shrunken from more than a dozen directors to five with the organization’s future uncertain.
“According to documents, emails, and interviews with multiple sources familiar with the situation,” wrote D‘s Glenn Hunter, “Goodman’s firing stemmed from an extraordinary arrangement that was made with an NCPA employee named Sherri Collins, after Collins accused Goodman of assaulting her in a Southern California hotel room in 2012.”
Goodman reportedly promoted Collins from an assistant’s position to director of the firm’s human relations division. She was awarded a salary of $85,000 per year, a guaranteed bonus check each year for at least three years and other benefits, all in an effort by Goodman to stave off legal punishment.
When an employee complained about treatment they’d gotten from Collins, the arrangement was brought to the attention of NCPA’s directors, who felt that the assault in California and Goodman’s handling of it seriously called into question his professionalism.
Then, in early June, Collins was arrested for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend with a fake plant. The boyfriend — not Goodman — pressed charges and Collins was booked for assault and criminal mischief. It was not her first arrest. Collins had multiple brushes with the law for theft, assault and criminal mischief.
Shortly thereafter, Goodman was fired by the board of directors. In a series of increasingly hostile press-releases, Goodman and the NCPA accused each other incompetence, dishonesty and “serious misconduct.”
The NCPA hired Collins in 2011 as a temporary clerical worker through an agency called RecruitTexas, which did not perform a background check. Goodman immediately took a shine to her.
“John liked her,” a former NCPA employee told Hunter. “He would rub her leg. She would smile. It seemed like two people in a relationship.”
Goodman divorced his wife in 2012.
By 2013, however, things had gone sour enough between the pair that an apparent physical confrontation erupted between them in the California hotel room. Goodman reportedly choked Collins in the course of a violent argument that left the hotel room “torn up.”
Not long after, Collins received her extraordinary promotion.
D spoke to employment attorney Matt Scott of Dallas’ Kendall Law Group LLP, who said these types of workplace situations are not uncommon.
Particularly, Scott said, when the CEO has “a fair amount of arrogance” and who treats the “organization as their own, to do with it what they want.” Scott said it’s also not unusual for smaller companies — NCPE had 22 full-time employees in 2013 — to put people in charge of HR who have little or no experience in the field.
“That goes on for awhile until they cross the line and it blows up in their face,” explained Scott. “So, this [situation] doesn’t surprise me.”
NCPE’s human relations department broke down fairly quickly under Collins. Ultimately she was fired and has since sued the company alleging discrimination.
The group of lawyers hired by the think tank to rebut her claims have prepared a dossier on Collins that Hunter said portrays her as the aggressor in the relationship with Goodman and accuses of her of having “multiple personality disorder.”
Now, with at least seven board members gone, Goodman and NCPE are claiming to have mended their fences. Hunter reported that he was trying to set up and interview with Goodman until July 9, when Goodman and the NCPE’s acting CEO Dennis McCuistion left a joint voice mail that said that Goodman and the NCPE had reached an agreement about which they could say nothing.
Furthermore, McCuistion said, “We deeply regret any differences we had with a former employee, and all disputes with her have been mutually resolved. We do not wish to comment further.”
[image of John C. Goodman via Facebook.com]