Charity concert sponsors upset over musician Ed Turner's jabs at Board of Regents member

Friday, Aug 24, 2012 4:05 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 31, 2012 4:12 PM
  • Follow Education

A local musician has parted ways with an annual charity concert after his criticism of a member of the Georgia Board of Regents over a new university name got him into hot water with an event sponsor, which is also the board member’s bank.

Turner
Turner

Ed Turner, whose band Ed Turner and Number 9 worked with the Columbia County Exchange Club to raise money for children’s charities with its annual Concert for Kids, informed the club Thursday he was ending their six-year relationship.

Turner’s decision was in response to a request from club President William H. “Chip” Lowe III for an explanation and an apology for remarks made about Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz and Synovus Bank at a recent series of concerts at the Imperial Theatre.

Turner, who also writes a column for The Augusta Chronicle, said he got into trouble for criticizing Azziz and state regents over the selection of Georgia Regents University as the name created for the merging GHSU and Augusta State University. Turner said he “poked fun” at Azziz by comparing his photo to one of the characters from The Munsters, Eddie Munster.

He also called out regent and Synovus Bank CEO Kessel Stelling Jr., an Augusta native, for voting for the name.

“He just turned his back on his hometown,” said Turner, who said Stelling’s father, Kessel Stelling Sr., was a comptroller for the city of Augusta.

“I grew up with him,” he said. “His father would have never done such a thing.”

Lowe said one of the event’s sponsors was Augusta First Bank & Trust, a division of Synovus Bank.

“He actually told the crowd to boycott the bank during his presentation,” Lowe said.

Augusta First President W. Tattnall “Tat” Thompson IV and several bank board members were at one of the concerts.

“They were really in a tizzy,” he said. “They wanted an explanation about how we allowed this to happen.”

Synovus spokesman Greg Hudgison said the company did not request an apology from Turner.

“Our support of worthy causes – including this event – is not impacted by the words or actions of any one individual, but by the overriding benefit to the entire region,” Hudgison said in an e-mail.

Lowe said the club was apologizing to sponsors for what happened and had asked Turner to do the same.

Turner said he didn’t intend to offend sponsors, but he isn’t about to apologize, either. He said as an artist and a steadfast supporter of Augusta, it was his prerogative to express his opinions on stage.

“I had no idea those banks were even related,” he said. “We’ve had a very good six-year run with the Columbia County Exchange Club, but we find it necessary to partner with another club that is more on the same page with the band and I.”

The Exchange Club of Columbia County would like to respond to the misunderstanding surrounding our letter to Number 9 leader, Ed Turner, regarding his presentation at Concert for Kids on August 10th and 11th. Our single purpose in producing this annual event was and is to raise money for Child Enrichment, Inc., a non-profit organization which helps abused and neglected children; the Fisher House, aiding our Wounded Warriors; as well as many other worthy causes in the Augusta area. With this mind, we deeply regret the controversy.

 

The intent of our letter had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the embroilment surrounding the renaming of Augusta State University and GHSU, regardless of our personal opinions.  Some of our event's major sponsors took offense at Mr. Turner's remarks aimed directly at them and requested an explanation from us. The band's services were not donated but were paid for by our event sponsors, and for us not to record objection to the malignment of a sponsor (whose board of directors includes other event sponsors), their fine employees and shareholders, and a local employer would have been remiss on our part.

 

We believe Mr. Turner would never have intentionally insulted an event sponsor and thus jeopardize the desperately needed support for our charities, and we asked him to explain to our sponsors that the opinions expressed did not necessarily reflect those of the Exchange Club of Columbia County. Apparently our letter to him did not properly convey our message. Mr. Turner had to leave town after our initial communication and we regret we did not have the opportunity to talk with him before his decision was made to make this internal issue public. We feel had our true intent been known, there would have been a different outcome.

 

Most of all, we deeply regret that our primary mission, raising money for those in need, has received a setback. We hope all those who support or programs will continue to do so and realize we seek only to fulfill that goal.

 

Exchange Club of Columbia County

Comments (39) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
seenitB4
87116
Points
seenitB4 08/24/12 - 05:23 pm
15
1
A man

A man has to do what he feels....this man did.

Little Lamb
45960
Points
Little Lamb 08/24/12 - 05:44 pm
14
1
Correct

I think Ed Turner is doing the correct thing. The Exchange Club was being too nervous. The Synovus dude had the right attitude; look at the overall good, not just one guy's stage banter.

CobaltGeorge
158572
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/24/12 - 05:59 pm
10
1
I Just Love

a man that can step on someone's foot, turn around and say "Did it Hurt?"

Newsflash
1911
Points
Newsflash 08/24/12 - 06:04 pm
15
1
Freedom of............

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Ed Turner is covered under both of these . Ed Turner does so much good for so many people you cant blame him for sticking to his guns. Good man ! These thin skin blowhards need to take a powder. Ed Turner # 9 as well as The Augusta Chronicle will continue to be held in high esteem for the coverage of this entire Azziz Affair. Keep on Rocking & Writing Ed .

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 08/24/12 - 06:30 pm
0
0
Sounds to me
Unpublished

like some snobby bank execs got their collective panties in a wad while kissing up to da man, azziz.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/24/12 - 07:26 pm
11
0
Props to Ed Turner. Now,

Props to Ed Turner.

Now, let's go and join the boycott!

Just My Opinion
5627
Points
Just My Opinion 08/24/12 - 07:32 pm
12
0
When you get into higher

When you get into higher positions within an organization, then you have to take on more of a "hands-off" approach to anything that is deemed controversial, and that is exactly where "Chip" and "Tat" and "Kess" are coming from. In other words, they wouldn't be in those positions for long if they told people exactly how they felt! So, I hope they get alot of support from their family, friends, and fellow members, because they've obviously lost their backbones!
You know, all this reminds me of that great country song "You Have to Stand for Something, or You'll Fall for Anything!".
Good job, Ed! Keep on being your own man and not one of these kiss-tails!

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 08/24/12 - 08:08 pm
11
0
Both sides anyone?

I can see the point of Ed's deciding to discontinue the association. Artists's by nature bristle at authority, but they also must understand there can be consequences for their stances. Remember the Dixie Chicks?
But In this case I think there was an overreaction by all parties involved.
First, the bankers who were offended by Mr. Turner's remarks should remember, all they did was write a check.And from what my sources tell me the checks weren't THAT large. They did not spend countless hours in rehearsals as the band members did, nor did they volunteer time as the Exchange Club members do every year.
Secondly, the Exchange Club members probably could have been a bit more diplomatic in dealing with a known "musician"..lol as to the wording of their letter and shown a bit more backbone to the "offended" bankers..considering the band has raised anywhere from $350,000 to $400,000 for the cause.
Lastly, Ed maybe could have done a bit more research on who was the actual sponsor, versus who was the bank in question...
But to me this is yet another sad manifestation of the whole GRU/ASU debacle...Because Dr. Azizz and the BoR chose to act as they did they managed to pit yet ANOTHER demographic against each other. Not only is it students vs. administrators....or citizens vs politicians. Now it's bled over into benevolent organizations and bankers vs. volunteers and musicians....
Thanks for nothing Board of Regents and Dr. Azizz.....

abeecee
122
Points
abeecee 08/24/12 - 08:13 pm
9
0
Get my smelling salts!

Oh my heavens! An artist has said something controversial! Bring my smelling salts Uncle Peter!

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 08/24/12 - 09:34 pm
10
0
Ed Turner r-o-c-k-s

Ed, we like you just the way you are! For those that don't know Ed, he is huge in our community. I am especially proud of Ed for all that he does for the CSRA Humane Society on Milledge Road.

Dixieman
14943
Points
Dixieman 08/24/12 - 09:59 pm
8
0
Go Ed!

My principles aren't for sale either.

corgimom
32343
Points
corgimom 08/24/12 - 10:19 pm
5
0
I read the letter, and "we

I read the letter, and "we asked him to explain to our sponsors that the opinions expressed did not necessarily reflect those of the Exchange Club of Columbia County". It didnt say that at all, they are lying.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/24/12 - 10:29 pm
6
0
Expand the boycott

Where does this William H. “Chip” Lowe III guy work?

Maybe the boycott should include the businesses of all Exchange Club officers.

Just Asking
17
Points
Just Asking 08/24/12 - 10:57 pm
9
0
Augusta First Bank and Trust is local in name only

This is just the most recent reason to drop business with AFB & T. This bank sold Augusta out long ago when it was bought out by Synovous. They kept the name for the illusion of a local bank, but have no real interest here. It's no surprise that Kessell could care less about local issues. Neither he nor his bank are local anymore. Stick wih true local banks instead.

auggaguy
39
Points
auggaguy 08/24/12 - 10:54 pm
7
0
“He just turned his back on his hometown,”

I'm all about that. I'm 4th generation Augusta. My ancestors are turning over in their graves.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 08/25/12 - 05:50 am
9
0
Ed, Excellent job! It's a

Ed,
Excellent job! It's a shame that Deke doesn't have your conviction and backbone!

TruthJusticeFaithHope
218
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 08/25/12 - 06:03 am
9
0
Can we blame this too on Azziz.... YES, Yes we should...

If Azziz had not lied and deceived... this issue, and the good people involved, would not be in the news. The "name" of the consolidated universities has been the focus of everyone's attention, and I agree... it was the worst name of all those presented... but, the real focus of our attention should be the insidious, unethical, manipulative, deceitful behavior of Dr. Riccardo Azziz.
When leaders lie, and cover up, and other leaders let them get away with it, the entire system suffers from corruption. Trust is lost, and opportunities are compromised. Stand up, speak out and condemn Azziz's actions. As for the club, Ed, the concerts and the charities involved in this spat, thank you for all that you have done... you have done much more good for this community than Azziz ever will.

smartasugarsugar
139
Points
smartasugarsugar 08/25/12 - 06:17 am
1
5
sacked for being outspoken

I really don't care either way about MCG changing it's name again. i do care however that apparently this place of higher learning has nothing better to do with millions of dollars than change its name every few years. i mean if you got money to burn, I'm sure there is a ton of other good deeds that could be done with it. heck why don't you help your neighbor across the street, pain college. oh, wait i almost forgot where i was.

agustinian
689
Points
agustinian 08/25/12 - 07:50 am
2
9
Hmmmmmm

Express your opinion fine. If you didn't realize you were recommending a boycott of a sponsor, shouldn't you apologize for that one comment once you understood the facts?

Or are you saying, my opinion is so important, I can step on anyone's shoes, and the heck with the kids -- which is what this is all about, isn't it?

KSL
129373
Points
KSL 08/25/12 - 08:28 am
4
0
No

No

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 08/25/12 - 08:34 am
3
0
Anyone know where you can

Anyone know where you can read the letter?

Anonymous0ne
25
Points
Anonymous0ne 08/25/12 - 09:23 am
4
0
Correct info

The initial link casting fool posted is a creatively edited version of the actual email that was sent, and the info Austin had and was going off of initially. I see casting fool has noticed that and made the adjustment in adding the correct one.

Folks, this is one of the reasons this all got blown out of proportion of sorts from the beginning. Austin did not have the full email and facts when he began his initial diatribe on the Exchange Club. Yes, maybe the letter could have been worded a little differently, but the point was there. Non profits have to be careful what they appear to be "promoting," both politically and on social issues as to not affect their non-profit status. Aside from the issue of offending the bank that helped to pay the bands fee with their sponsorship, perhaps another reason this needed to be addressed was due to maintaining that status?

It is too bad that all of these people have been drug into this from all sides, but in all actuality this seems to have been made a huge deal when it should never have gotten that far.

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 08/25/12 - 09:24 am
5
0
Austin presented a modified

Austin presented a modified letter as if it were the original?

Anonymous0ne
25
Points
Anonymous0ne 08/25/12 - 09:35 am
5
0
In following him on Facebook

In following him on Facebook yes, that is the case. He was given the correct version a few hours later and posted it. However, it appears a lot of the damage was already done.

seenitB4
87116
Points
seenitB4 08/25/12 - 10:43 am
3
1
WHY

Why do I get the feeling I am watching a big baby in Augusta with a very dirty loose diaper & he is dropping is stuff everywhere he goes....everyday.......& I'm not talking about austin & ed...will someone put a new diaper on him....a tight one......& change his name...

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 08/25/12 - 10:45 am
3
0
Freedom of Speech or The 5th Amendment Both Should Be Embraced

The have and the have nots, a city or a town, high society or a common citizen, Atlanta or Augusta, White-collar or Blue-collar, Christian or Atheist, as a snowball roles down hill dose it not get bigger and larger? The Georgia Board of Regents have this dysfunctional situation to the communities of Augusta. 1 Samuel 2:1-36, Hosea 10:12-13, 2 Corinthians 1:1-24, Psalm 1:1-6, Galatians 5:24-6:18, Luke 6:38, and last but not least 1 Corinthians 9:7-12. 

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 08/25/12 - 10:51 am
3
2
Don't You Just love.............

those guys with III, IV etc. at the end of their names. Their mothers couldn't figure out what to call them so they got "cute" nicknames.

JRC2024
8854
Points
JRC2024 08/25/12 - 12:28 pm
4
0
Sweet, what is wrong with a

Sweet, what is wrong with a III. I am one and proud to be named after my grandfather and father which were good business people in Augusta and provided well for their children and wife. They also provided jobs to the community. As for Mr. Turner I respect his right to free speech but when you are paid to perform you keep your ideas to yourself and talk about them when you are not on someone else's time.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Scots reject independence in historic vote

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.
Search Augusta jobs