Small Foundation: Big Intrigue

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July 24, 2011; Source: The Baltimore Sun | “Reduce the number of Trustees serving on the Board of Trustees from three to two.” This is what Gene Raynor read in the agenda for the first meeting planned for the $1.3 million charitable foundation established by William Donald Schaefer, a former mayor of Baltimore and Raynor’s friend of 50 years. Raynor is one of three associates hand-picked by Schaefer as trustees to his foundation – the other two are Lainy LeBow-Sachs, a longtime aide; and Zelig Robinson, his personal and campaign attorney.

Since the same package of materials reflected that Le-Bow Sachs would be elected President and Robinson, Treasurer, Raynor was left to assume that maybe he was the one they were talking about. Those familiar with the whole crew expressed a lack of surprise about the apparent attempt at an ouster since apparently “Schaefer attracted a group of devoted friends and aides who fought jealously for his attention and affection. Raynor and LeBow-Sachs were very close to him — and very much at odds with each other.”

"That whole relationship is bizarre, the antagonism," said Nelson Sabatini, Schaefer's former state health secretary who describes himself as a friend of both Raynor and LeBow-Sachs. "They were both really devoted to him, really devoted to him. But I’m sure it troubled him that they couldn’t get along better than they did. … Apparently they can’t even tolerate being in the same room together. You would think they would just let it go now and figure out some way to move forward."

As if that is not enough, Robinson’s law firm is likely doing paid work for the foundation (one of the other resolutions scheduled for a vote was to engage his firm as legal counsel and Robinson said he could not comment about the situation because in addition to serving as a trustee, he is the foundation’s lawyer, and commenting would violate attorney-client privilege. All in all an inauspicious start. –Ruth McCambridge