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Divorce may shake foundation

The widow of Hugh Culverhouse is leaving her husband. The couple's handling of a philanthropy raised questions.

By JEFF TESTERMAN
Published April 5, 2006


Robert Daugherty and Joy McCann Daugherty married in 2001.

Charity in conflict
By Jeff Testerman
Before his death, Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse asked trustees of his foundation to donate millions to 38 charities. His widow, Joy McCann Culverhouse, agreed in a 1997 court settlement to continue that plan. But after she remarried, foundation funds began flowing to charities with ties to her new husband.
Go to article (5/1/05)

TAMPA - Joy McCann Daugherty, the millionaire widow of former Tampa Bay Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr., has filed papers to end her five-year marriage to Dr. Robert M. Daugherty, the former dean at the University of South Florida Medical School who helped take his wife's foundation in a controversial new direction.

Mrs. Daugherty, 86, filed the boilerplate petition to dissolve her marriage in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Friday, saying only that the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and that she anticipated she and her husband would "amicably resolve" all issues, including financial ones.

In an interview last year, Mrs. Daugherty said she had protected her fortune by having Robert Daugherty sign a prenuptial agreement.

"I keep all I have and he keeps what he has," she said in explaining the contents of the prenup.

Tuesday, Joy Daugherty wasn't saying much else, politely explaining that her lawyers had told her not to comment. "That's what I pay them so much money for, I guess," she said with a laugh.

Daugherty, who keeps a home in Reno, where he served a 17-year stint as dean at the University of Nevada School of Medicine before coming to Tampa, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Mrs. Daugherty has asked a court to restore the name Joy McCann Culverhouse, her name when she was the wife of Culverhouse Sr., a tax lawyer who died of lung cancer in 1994.

He left assets worth $381-million: the Bucs, real estate holdings, utilities and other investments. Some of the fortune was left to family. Some was placed in a trust with explicit instructions to bequeath the money to 38 charities, most located in the Tampa Bay area, according to a deathbed letter he penned.

It is the handling of those instructions by Joy Daugherty and her new husband that drew the ire of the Florida attorney general and sparked a revolt by a handful of intended beneficiaries who now oppose the foundation in probate litigation, being contested in a Hillsborough courtroom.

The foundation, headed by the Daughertys, maintains it had the right to disregard the deathbed instructions, rewrite bylaws and give the money to anyone its directors chose. The attorney general and several of the 38 charities say that latitude violated a court order.

Robert H. Waltuch, the attorney for both the foundation and Joy Daugherty, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Unanswered as yet is what effect the divorce will have on the balance of power on the foundation governing board. Corporate records currently list two officers other than the Daughertys: Tampa CPA Scott Lynch, who is a longtime adviser to Joy Daugherty, and Harry Jonas, a medical doctor who is a friend and business associate of Robert Daugherty.

Also unanswered is what role Robert Daugherty has played in influencing Mrs. Daugherty in decisions to expend millions of her first husband's money.

Robert Daugherty said in an interview last year that his influence was negligible. He even suggested his new bride kept him on a short leash with an agreement that his consulting and outside business interests couldn't keep him away from Joy more than two nights a month.

Mrs. Daugherty, a former amateur golf champion, insisted no one pressured her to write checks. "I do what I damn well want with my money," she told the St. Petersburg Times last year. "I'm the driver of this car."

Others aren't so sure.

"As far as the divorce, if this is what my mother wants to do, then I stand behind her 100 percent," Hugh Culverhouse Jr. said Tuesday. He is an investor who owns the Palmer Ranch in Sarasota and who served as a director on the foundation when it was initially formed.

"But looking at the donations the last couple of years after Bob joined the board, I do feel he influenced her, and that's why I chose to intervene in the probate litigation."

Culverhouse Jr.'s petition to intervene on the side of the attorney general and the local charities was approved by a judge in January.

The brief history of the foundation stems to 1997, when Joy Culverhouse won a court battle over the estate and agreed to carry out the wishes of her late husband with continued bequests to the 38 charities.

But after she met Robert Daugherty, all that changed.

The couple announced their engagement in January 2001, just before Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. She was 80. He was 66, a widower who had taken the $437,000-a-year dean's post at the USF medical school. They were married on July 6 that year in front of 40 guests at the Meadowood resort in Napa Valley, Calif.

Robert Daugherty was added to the foundation board months before they tied the knot. Among the foundation's first gifts after the wedding: a $1.1-million donation to USF, where Robert Daugherty now worked.

The relationship with USF was not so rosy after USF president Judy Genshaft ordered Robert Daugherty to resign after learning he had solicited campaign contributions from his employees for the U.S. Senate campaign of Johnny Byrd. When Dean Daugherty lost his job, foundation money stopped going to USF for good.

USF wasn't the only local charity of Culverhouse's 38 suddenly left out. After Robert Daugherty and two associates were added to the foundation board, tax returns showed much of the foundation's money was no longer going to the 38 but instead was going to out-of-state beneficiaries with close ties to Robert Daugherty.

The foundation, newly named the Joy McCann Foundation, voted to give $300,000 to the University of Chicago for a cancer research program run by Robert Daugherty's son.

It donated $1.03-million to the University of Kansas, where Robert Daugherty earned his undergraduate and medical degrees. Kansas promptly named him distinguished medical alumnus of the year and hired his consulting firm to do accreditation counseling.

The foundation gave a $500,000 grant to the law school at Nevada-Las Vegas in the name of Harry Denton, a prominent lawyer who is a longtime friend of Robert Daugherty. Mrs. Daugherty said she met him just once, over lunch, before agreeing to the endowment.

Some of the 38 charities complained of conflicts of interest and misrepresentation, pointing out that the foundation asked for permission from the 38 to amend the bylaws with a promise it would all be ratified by a judge. That never happened.

The Florida attorney general declared the foundation money wasn't the Daughertys' to spend as they pleased but the public's for them to safeguard. And so, all parties headed to court to argue.

Now, the divorce threatens to split the foundation board. Whether that cuts or lengthens the probate case is anybody's guess.

--Jeff Testerman can be reached at 813 226-3422 or testerman@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 5, 2006, 06:20:32]


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