Turner legislation would keep aviation hall in Ohio

A Dayton congressman has attempted to thwart any potential move of the National Aviation Hall of Fame from Ohio.

But an attorney representing the nonprofit organization said Tuesday there are no plans to leave the state.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner added a measure to a House defense authorization bill that would strip authority from the NAHF board of trustees to relocate the hall outside the state.

RELATED: Turner plans to remove congressional backing of Aviation Hall of Fame

The Republican congressman, who announced in January he would launch a probe into the organization’s finances, said he was prompted by NAHF “threats” over the years to move the Hall of Fame, located inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“…we’re not just going to sit there as a community and help them pack their stuff,” Turner said in an interview Tuesday. “Our community founded this national asset and they are both responsible to Congress and to our community.”

David C. Greer, a Dayton attorney who represents the NAHF, said Tuesday there are no plans to leave the region.

“The National Aviation Hall of Fame is at a loss to understand the aggressive, adversarial attitude Congressman Turner continues to display toward an organization that is as proud of its Dayton roots as it is of its national prominence,” Greer said in a written statement.

Turner commented on the provision for the first time Tuesday when this newspaper contacted his office about the language in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House last week. The Senate may act on the defense policy bill next month.

The lawmaker said Tuesday the community needs a “constructive relationship” with the Hall.

“This hopefully will take off the table their threats and really tantrums and hopefully cause them to be sitting with us at the table saying how are we going to ensure this Aviation Hall of Fame is the best for our country and the best to honor those who have been innovators in aviation,” he said.

A top NAHF leader brought up the topic of a move after Turner launched a probe of the organization’s finances in January and later announced he would set up a “blue ribbon panel” to review documents and present recommendations to keep the Hall of Fame financially viable.

At the time, NAHF President Michael J. Queillo told the Daily News the nonprofit’s trustees were frustrated “because we don’t know what (Turner) is trying to accomplish here other than having us make a vote to pick up the Hall of Fame and move to another city.”

RELATED: Hall of Fame ceremony moving to Texas from Dayton

Letter to NAHF

In a Jan. 25 letter to the NAHF, Turner announced his office had received “complaints of financial mismanagement and misappropriation of NAHF resources and assets” and he was initiating an “investigation” into its finances.

The letter did not elaborate on specific allegations, but made a broad request for documents due last March.

Records show the nonprofit has lost money for years. In 2015, the organization reported losing more than $185,000 for the year, GuideStar records show.

In a statement Tuesday, Turner called the losses “truly staggering,” saying the nonprofit had reported annual losses of more than $140,000 in each of the past 13 years.

In an interview earlier this year, Quiello denied Turner’s allegations of “mismanagement and misappropriation.” He said then the NAHF would work with Turner’s panel if it intended to restore the Hall of Fame’s reputation in the midst of the congressman’s inquiry and work to strengthen ties with the Dayton region to support the group’s mission.

RELATED: Lawyer: Turner has no oversight authority over Aviation Hall of Fame

Turner responded he would draft legislation to remove the nonprofit’s congressional charter. He said Tuesday the language in the defense bill was his response.

“Pretty much every year for the last five or 10 years, they have have threatened to move the hall out of Dayton,” Turner said.“These threats have got to stop.”

A telephone message was left Tuesday for blue ribbon panel chairman Kevin DeWine.

Greer has said NAHF provided more than a decade of audited financial statements. “It has provided the Congressman every document to which he can claim any statutory requirement,” he said in a statement.“Its tax returns are publicly filed and transparent to the public.”

Greer added he posed a series of 21 questions to Turner that were never answered and he has “repeatedly offered” to meet with the blue ribbon panel. “Those offers have been met with silence,” the attorney said.

RELATED : Official says Hall of Fame reputation hurt by Turner probe

In December, the National Aviation Hall of Fame announced an annual enshrinement ceremony would move to Texas from Dayton this October, marking the first time the event would be hosted outside the Dayton region. The move upset many in the region. The hall has not announced where the enshrinement will be hosted in 2018.


This newspaper has closely followed developments with the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Count on us to bring you the latest news with the hall of fame.

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