Last year, the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. made a payment of $3,000 to the Catfish Club, a civic forum run by The Rev. George Walker Smith, who is the father of Carolyn Y. Smith, who was recently fired as the president of SEDC after being embroiled in a scandal over hidden bonuses she paid herself and her staff.
Corporate memberships at the Catfish Club are $1,000 a year according to the organization’s website. Individual memberships are $400 a year. Luncheons at the club, which are held every week, cost $20 for non-members, according to the website.
The payment is listed in documents SEDC released earlier this week in response to queries from the Mayor’s Office. The documents show a check was paid to the Catfish Club on Oct. 19, 2007 in the amount of $3,000.
I put in a call to Herman Collins, who works as a consultant for SEDC and also helps to organize the Catfish Club. He passed on my message to Rev. Smith.
Herman Collins faxed me a message from Rev. Smith this afternoon. It reads:
Your inquiry relates to documents you are reviewing that involve the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation (SEDC). As SEDC is the focus of your inquiry, I believe it is appropriate that you obtain any and all information regarding SEDC directly from SEDC.
I have sent SEDC a letter asking for an explanation (Smith no longer returns my calls).