Public relations executive George Regan alleges that Suffolk University illegally broke his company’s contract with the school as a result of personal animus toward him, according to a copy of a letter sent Thursday to board members and university president Margaret McKenna.
The letter says McKenna and the school’s decision to sever ties last month with Regan Communications Group has caused the company to suffer approximately $477,000 in damages, and threatens to sue Suffolk if a settlement is not reached by April 5.
The demand, conveyed by the law firm Burns & Levinson, is the latest twist in an unusually public spat that has consumed the university over the past two months. A push by trustees to oust McKenna backfired, but McKenna has agreed to leave her job ahead of schedule, by the fall of 2017.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, alleges that McKenna used Suffolk funds to engage in “extreme spending” and personal travel, and was abusive toward Suffolk staff.
It says there was a potential IRS investigation into allegations of misconduct at the Walmart Foundation during McKenna’s tenure there from 2007 to 2011.
The letter says McKenna, after she was hired, tried several times to enlist Regan to persuade Board of Trustees chairman Andrew Meyer to step down, telling Regan she disagreed with trustees’ ideas about how to run the university.
It also alleges that after Regan refused to assist in ousting Meyer, McKenna believed Regan was aligned with the trustees and he and his firm were her “enemies.”
“No doubt, you had caused this termination notice to be sent, and you plainly did so as a result of your animus toward [Regan Communications Group] and Mr. Regan,” the five-page letter says, directing language at McKenna.
Suffolk University, in a statement Friday called the charges “without merit” and said that at the time Regan’s relationship with the school was terminated, no contract existed between the parties.
“The statements contained in the letter directed toward President McKenna are false and defamatory. The letter itself is a thinly veiled threat to President McKenna personally and an attack on the university to which she is deeply committed,” said the statement, from Suffolk spokesman Greg Gatlin. A spokeswoman for the trustees said until the board has all the facts, it is inappropriate for them to comment.
Regan, in a statement, said “this is not about money.”
“It is about making sure that Margaret McKenna honors Regan Communications’ contract with Suffolk University and acknowledges our 27-year commitment to turning the school into a world class higher education institution,” the statement said.
In fiscal 2014, the most recent year for which data are publicly available, Suffolk’s payments to Regan Communications totaled $294,000 and included one full-time Regan employee who worked at the college, according to tax documents. Regan has ties to several board members, including his employee, Julie Kahn, a trustee.
The letter says McKenna made the university liable for breach of contract and that she is also personally liable for violating a state law pertaining to deceptive and unfair trade practices, alleging all of which could cost the school more than $2.5 million in damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees. It urges the university to settle by paying the last due amount under the agreement, $31,624, as well as monthly payments of $21,082 through 2017.
The letter says the firm has worked for the university for more than 27 years, and the relationship was memorialized in a series of contracts, the last agreed to in 2014.
The agreement says the firm is to be paid $19,166 per month plus an additional 10 percent for expenses, through December 2017 and that nothing allows termination of the agreement before then, according to the letter. According to a copy of the contract obtained by the Globe, it was signed by Regan, but not Suffolk.Laura Krantz can be reached at email@example.com.