NBA Team Owner Leaves LACMA Board Over Ownership of Prison Phone Company

BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) - NBA team owner Tom Gores has stepped down from the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art after calls for the billionaire's ouster over his investment firm's ownership of a prison telephone company, it was reported today.

Criminal justice activists have been hounding the 56-year-old private equity titan since his Beverly Hills firm acquired Securus Technologies in 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported. Last month, two groups sent a letter to the museum's leadership accusing Gores of the “deliberate exploitation of Black, Brown, and economically distressed communities.''

The letter to LACMA Director Michael Govan and the board's two co-chairs was accompanied by a petition signed by more than 100 artists that later grew to include donors, as well as artists such as Monica Majoli, John Houck and Sam Durant, who have exhibited at the museum, The Times reported.

The controversy was discussed last week at a Board of Trustee's meeting, an attendee told The Times, during which Gores defended the investment and told trustees about how his Platinum Equity firm was in the midst of reforming Securus. The company has been accused of charging prisoners exorbitant prices for calls.

There was no resolution of the issue, but in a letter a Platinum spokesman said was emailed Thursday night, Gores wrote to Govan and the trustees that the firm had no idea the investment would become a “nexus for addressing the political, social, racial and economic issues roiling America today,'' The Times reported.

The letter, reported The Times, said the firm was committed to the reforms but was fighting “entrenched opposition from critics on one side who think we're moving too far and too fast, and on the other side who think we're not moving far enough or fast enough.

Last night's letter continued:

“Paraphrasing a salient question at last week's board meeting: 'Okay Tom, we appreciate your efforts to “take the hill'' and reform Securus. But why does LACMA have to take the hill with you?' The simple answer is: You don't. Effective immediately, I resign my position on the board and forego all ties to the institution.''

Gores owns the Detroit Pistons and has been a LACMA trustee since 2006.

Photo: Getty Images

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