Alabama Public Television raises money via fired CEO letter


Alabama Public Television is using a form letter signed by its fired chief executive Allan Pizzato to ask past donors for more money six months after directors ousted him in a decision that preceded a wave of resignations by APT execs.

A spokesman for APT told The Associated Press/ a mistake led to about 1,000 contributors recently receiving the form letter signed by Pizzato.

A lawyer representing the fired executive said he suspects the network is lying and actually meant to send the letter bearing Pizzato’s name.

“Nothing this board does is innocent,” said Mark White, who represents Pizzato. White said his firm was sending a letter Wednesday demanding the network quit using Pizzato’s name to raise money.

APT this month sent a two-page letter to past donors asking them to give money as “sustainers” of the network, which operates nine television stations and one radio station in a statewide network. Dated December 2012, the letter carries the name of Pizzato, fired by board members in June as leaders considered changes that including adding Christian-themed historical programming on the stations.

“Please join our exclusive group of continuing supporters who are committed to public television every season — securing the future of your current favorite programs and allowing us to develop new series and specials here in Alabama and around the world,” said the letter, which ended with Pizzato’s printed name and signature. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

Mike McKenzie, a spokesman for APT, told the AP a direct-mail company sent the letter by mistake. Copies are printed months in advance to save money, he said, and the company failed to destroy the old letter signed by Pizzato, mailing about 1,000 copies instead.

“We’ve done other mailings between then and now – other campaigns – where Allan’s name was replaced,” McKenzie said by email in response to questions from AP.

White, whose law firm is suing APT over Pizzato’s ouster, doesn’t believe the letter was an accident, partly because the network previously sent another fundraising letter bearing Pizzato’s name despite his dismissal. Pizzato had been with the network about 12 years.

“They did it about a month after he was fired and they were told not to do it again,” White said. “I think they know a letter from Allan will raise more money than a letter from anyone else they have.”

More than a half-dozen members of a board linked to the network and another public television official quit after the Alabama Educational Television Commission vote to fire Pizzato and the network’s finance chief. Pizzato later sued, and the case is still pending.

Pizzato, replaced at APT by longtime Alabama broadcaster Roy Clem, starts work in January as president of the public television station in New Orleans, the story said.

See the AP/ story here