Equine Outreach facing new allegations after board resigns

Horse rescue facing allegations of mismanagement

BEND, Ore. - Equine Outreach was facing new allegations on Wednesday after its entire non-profit board resigned earlier this week. 

All six board members suddenly quit because they said the founders, Joan Steelhammer and her husband Gary Everett, did not agree with the direction the board wanted to take with the horse rescue organization.

They accuse the founders of mixing personal funds with the non-profit horse rescue. 

Board treasurer Steve Jeffrey told NewsChannel 21 via email he was never given access to the nonprofit's bank account.

Jeffrey said the founders collected all donations and paid all of the organizations' bills. 

He said there was no accounting or transparency on where the cash donations were being spent. 

“The new board and treasurer had zero access. Everett kept all this under his control," he said "As the board pushed to gain access, he lobbied to get rid of the pushers, which of course disgusted the rest of the board, making clear we needed to get out before it implodes.” 

Everett said he was still paying the bills of Equine Outreach and had access to the accounts because the board voted to keep him as the treasurer until January, while it was moving to create new accounts for the organization. 

Former board president Woody Dow said the board was going through a transition period where Everett would hand over the accounts and financial responsibilities to Jeffrey by the end of October. 

Dow said the board wanted to lead the non-profit organization in a different way on how they conducted everyday business. 

Everett said the annual cost to run the horse rescue operation is $300,000 and they use the cash donations to pay for the mortgage, utilities, and caring for the horses. 

Equine Outreach is required as a non-profit organization to file a 990 form with the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the 2014 tax forms, Equine Outreach brought in $289,537 in contributions, grants and other revenue. Their expenses were $249,394, leaving the horse rescue with $40,000 by the end of the year. 

Another allegation claimed there was a volunteer who was stealing from the ranch, including, hay, donations and horse medications.

Everett said the cost is cheaper for them to treat a horse off-site and they sometimes give hay to horse owners who need it. 

Both founders refused our request to go on camera to address these allegations, saying they were advised by their attorney’s not to speak to the media. 

The Equine Outreach founders said they're currently forming a new board.

NewsChannel 21 reached out to the Oregon Department of Justice to see if there is an active investigation, but there is no record of such. 

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