The president of the Press Club of Dallas, who previously determined that its prestigious journalism competition was rigged in 2006 and 2005, said Wednesday he believes no judges
ever viewed entries for the 2004 contest either. “I have no evidence that 2004 was judged,” press club President Tom Stewart said. “At this point, I put it in the same category as `05 and `06.”
The club has filed a lawsuit against former President Elizabeth Albanese, accusing her of rigging the competitions. Albanese won 10 awards in the last four years, including four in 2006, the most of any journalist.
The suit accuses her of “dishonest and fraudulent activity”during her involvement with the organization. She engaged in fraud, breached her fiduciary duty to the press club and violated the Texas Theft Liability Act, according to the lawsuit.
Albanese’s response to the suit is due next week. She did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
Albanese became involved with the judging of the Katie Awards around 2003, the year she began winning the coveted prizes. She was president from August 2005 until March 2007, when she quit amid questions from board members about the Katie Awards and club finances.
There is a list of judges for the 2003 competition, Stewart said.
The integrity of the competition has been in doubt since press club members learned that Albanese couldn’t name any of the judges involved in the 2006 or 2005 competitions. Top editors at several of the region’s largest media outlets have said they are returning
their discredited awards.
A formal decision has not been made on whether the club will organize a competition in 2007, Stewart said.
“My opinion is that would be highly unlikely,” Stewart said. Board members also allege financial mismanagement by Albanese. She charged — and has since repaid — more than $10,000 in personal expenses to a press club credit card, Stewart said. During most of her tenure as press club president, Albanese was the Dallas bureau chief for The Bond Buyer, a New York-based financial publication aimed at people in the municipal bond industry.
She was fired in April from her job as vice president of communications for First Southwest Co., an investment banking firm in Dallas, after questions about the contest surfaced.
Albanese has a criminal history of fraud and theft and a personal history of erratic behavior, including false claims that she was a graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Law
School and a former New York Times reporter.
The Katie Awards have been distributed for 48 years by The Press Club of Dallas to reward the top work by journalists and communications professionals in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado,
Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.