Day 14: McInnis’ evasiveness has led Hasan Family Foundation to consider legal action

In an interview aired Wednesday, Colorado Public Radio asked gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis if he had kept his promise, which he made 14 days ago, to give back the $300,000 he got from the Hasan Family Foundation for his bungled two-year water fellowship.

McInnis said he had not given the money back yet, but he might do so later.

“I’ve got to make it right,” he told Colorado Public Radio. “That’s my point. What shape that takes, whether it’s the funds or whatever it is, it’s going to have to be done. I have got to make it right.”

So what is the Hasan Family Foundation’s thinking about the situation? That’s what journalists should be asking, given that it doesn’t look like McInnis is necessarily planning on returning the dough, as promised.

To find out, I spoke with Dr. Aliya Hasan, a foundation board member who eloquently defended the foundation July 16 on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show.

I asked Hasan whether McInnis had contacted the foundation about returning the money.

She said that McInnis called to apologize to her father, Malik Hasan, on Tuesday morning, July 13, after the plagiarism story hit the news on Monday. They didn’t discuss repayment at that point, but the foundation put out a statement by the end of the week that it wanted its money back. McInnis announced on the same day that he would honor the foundation’s request and return the $300,000.

The foundation was ready to work with McInnis to get the money back, as he had promised publicly, but McInnis never contacted the foundation to work out the details, according to Hasan.

“We didn’t hear anything from him at all,” Hasan told me. “So finally we asked our lawyer this week to send a letter formally asking for our money back.”

“We heard back from Scott’s lawyer,” she continued. “There was nothing in his letter about paying us back or about proposing a way to pay us back. The letter said that Scott wants to meet with you to make this right. You know, what he always says, I want to make this right.”

She told me the foundation doesn’t want to be mean or hurt the Republicans, but McInnis’ evasiveness has forced the foundation to consider legal action.

“The general consensus was that he is trying to wiggle out of this,” Hasan told me.  “He’s spoken to my dad already, and we’ve made it quite clear what our position is. There’s nothing more to discuss except the terms for how he is going to pay us back, which we felt our lawyer could do. And our lawyer advised us that it’s probably not a good idea to meet with him, since we are considering legal action, and we agreed. It’s one of those anything-you-say-can-be-used-against-you situations.”

“And so we’ve basically said that we are not going to meet with him,” she said. “We want our money back. Tell us how you are going to do this. And if we don’t hear back from you, then we are going to proceed to legal action. There’s no point in dragging this out further.”

Hasan said that the foundation wants to use the McInnis money for projects that benefit the community, which is the purpose of the foundation, and that’s the underlying motivation for the potential legal action.

“We’re not vindictive about what happened,” said Hasan. “We’re upset, yes, but we just want our money back.”

There’s no firm date for filing the lawsuit, Hasan told me.

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