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United Way officials react to report on CEO pay scandal

United Way Board Chairman Carlos Evans says nothing in the report surprised him. Rather, he says he's happy that it's now clear what went wrong and who was responsible. Specifically, he says the majority of the agency's 65 board members were never given details about the CEO compensation package. "Should we have asked more questions? Yes," says Evans. "Did we know about the potential problem? No. And I think there's been a lot said about the breakdowns at the board level, to cast the board in a certain light. We accept responsibility. But the board was not involved in these decisions." The report indicates that all executive salary issues were handled by a small subcommittee of the board. Evans was not a member of that subcommittee. Those who were have publicly apologized. But former United Way CEO Gloria Pace King has not. The report is clear that King was aggressive in securing the compensation. It also says King removed one attorney from the negotiations who expressed concern the package might violate federal tax rules for excessive nonprofit compensation. The United Way Board's Attorney Russell Sizemore says the agency is looking into that - and may try to withhold some of what King was promised: "We're looking at all the facts and considering all of our options and there's nothing that's ruled out on that score," says Sizemore. King is suing the United Way to receive her full retirement benefit. Her attorney Bill Diehl declined to comment on the report. Interim United Way CEO Mac Everett says he and other employees at the nonprofit are pleased to finally have the entire story out in the open: "I think people are somewhat relieved - I know that may seem strange to say relieved - but we're relieved the report is out," says Everett. "I'm a believer that people can deal with facts, it's the uncertainty of things that are so difficult, now we have some certainty." With that certainty, Everett hopes the local United Way can raise the several million dollars it needs to meet its revised campaign goal of just over $30 million. The CEO pay controversy has discouraged many of the agency's donors. The United Way of America says fundraising across the country is off 1 to 2 percent as a result of the recession. In Charlotte, it's off by more than 30 percent.