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Ex-Wikipedia staffer harpoons Wales over expenses

'All of my expenses were appropriate and fully accounted for'

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A former employee of the Wikimedia Foundation has taken Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to task over the way he handled his expenses.

On Saturday morning, the very public breakup of Wales and former Fox News pundit Rachel Marden sparked a blog post from onetime foundation exec Danny Wool.

"At one point, [Wales] owed the Foundation some $30,000 in receipts, and this while we were preparing for the audit," the post reads. The Wikimedia Foundation relies on public contributions and grants to fund its operations, and all contributions qualify as charitable deductions.

According to Wool, this $30,000 went unpaid until another Foundation employee or board member threatened to leak the problem to Wikipedia's community of volunteer editors. "His credit card was taken away from him, and he was told he had to pay that back," Wool told The Reg. Wales returned about $7,000 of the money, Wool says, but the rest is unaccounted for.

In an IM conversation with The Associated Press, Wales denied that his Foundation credit card was taken away, saying it was his decision to stop submitting receipts for reimbursement.

With his post, Wool also claimed that Wales asked the Foundation to reimburse him for some rather expensive items, including a dinner for four at a Tampa, Florida steakhouse. Wool told The Reg that the dinner included two bottles of wine, one priced at $400 and one priced at $250, and according to The AP, the bill totaled $1300. But in the end, Wool says, Wales was not reimbursed for the dinner.

Florence Devouard, chairman of the Foundation board, declined our request for an interview, suggesting we speak with Jay Walsh, the Foundation's director of communications. Walsh would not comment, but Wikimedia executive director Sue Gardner posted a reply to Wool, on his blog:

Over the past few days, I've been struggling a little with how to respond to this. I don't want to get drawn into a long back-and-forth in which Danny makes an ongoing series of loose insinuations, and the Foundation then needs to painstakingly reconstruct past events in order to refute him point-by-point.

So I'm going to make one simple statement: Jimmy has never used Wikimedia money to subsidize his personal expenditures. Indeed, he has consistently put the Foundation's interests ahead of his own, and has erred on the side of personally paying for his own Wikimedia-related expenditures, rather than the reverse.

But according to an email obtained by The AP, Florence Devouard expressed a different opinion to Wikimedia insiders.

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