Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


December 7, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Attorney General to Lon Morris College auction bidders: We're not the enemy

"The OAG is simply doing its duty on behalf of the public's interest in nonprofit institutions and preserving such assets." -- Thomas Kelley, spokesman, Texas Attorney General



LMC bankruptcy estate officials have taken an aggressive strategy recently in regards to information released from and about the sale:

• On the day the attorney general was in Tyler bankruptcy court attempting to postpone the LMC auction from December to January, LMC officials (including Ameribid, the bankruptcy estate's official auctioneer) contacted reporters en masse in what amounted to a journalistic cattle call. Reporters who responded were offered tours of the abandoned Lon Morris Campus, during which officials present chatted up the December auction date with no mention of a possible AG-requested postponement.

• Despite all its paperwork regarding the auction having the December auction date stamped on it, LMC officials attempted in federal court to characterize its postponement in court this week as their idea — despite losing nearly $30,000 in advertising to promote the December date.

• During the hearing this week — even as LMC officials were levying their allegations against the media and the AG inside the courtroom — a press release was issued en masse to the media with quotes and facts and figures from LMC officials who could not possibly have made them before the hearing had taken place.

The release announced the news that the college apparently wanted released — that the auction had been postponed until January and that LMC had received approval for a loan to offset the costs of the coming auction. However, the PR writer incorrectly listed information that was true prior to the hearing but altered during it by judge ruling — that the approved loan, which LMC requested to be $500,000, had been lowered to $150,000.

• Also during the hearing, Ragan instructed a Jacksonville Daily Progress reporter to email her his story before it went to press. The reporter refused to do so.




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