Jordan Clarkson fundraiser at consulate raises questions: Is that allowed?
By Cristina DC Pastor
The event was billed as a town hall with NBA star, L.A. Lakers point guard Jordan Clarkson. It developed into a fan-club fundraiser that left some in the Filipino American community questioning if it was Ok for a fundraiser to be hosted at the Philippine Consulate.
The February 5 meet-and-greet was attended by more than 150 people, many of them basketball aficionados and Lakers fans. There were fathers who were proud to bring their sons to see a FilAm player in the NBA and hopefully get an autograph.
One New Jersey father who spoke to The FilAm said he signed up for the Fan Experience club of Jordan Clarkson, and was asked to pay $160.
“I paid,” he shared. “The people in front of me in the line also paid, as did the people after me.” He said he gave his money to Janie Clarkson, Jordan’s stepmom.
Spotted lining up for the Fan Experience was Fe Martinez and other members of PIDCI. The FilAm learned that Clarkson is being invited to headline next year’s Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue.
The Lakers fan from New Jersey said he was surprised that there was money involved to join the fan club. For the fee, he got a Lakers sling bag and a pin. There were other Lakers and Clarkson memorabilia that were raffled off, such as shirts and a cellphone case. There was no money to join the raffle.
Many of the people who lined up to join the fan club were paying in cash, and some had their credit cards run through a portable credit card reader.
“They were ready,” said a member of the community who was witness to the incident.
A father from Long Island said he filled out a form but when he saw it was $160, he walked away, finding it to be “too expensive.” He said people were not forced or guilt-tripped to pay.
Philippine Consulate officials said the fundraiser was not part of the program arranged between the consulate and the Filipino team of Clarkson led by Mark Anthony Agbuya.
“We were not aware,” said Consul Arman Talbo when contacted by The FilAm.
At the same time, he stressed that the consulate is not a proper venue for any kind of fundraiser. “We do not encourage fundraisers in our venues,” he said.
Team Clarkson, The FilAm learned, has 2 parts: 1) the management team led by Jordan’s father Mark, his stepmom, and his coach; the 2) all-FilAm volunteer team led by Mark Anthony Agbuya, whose background organizing the NETS Filipino Heritage Night in December made him a good fit to lead the all-FilAm team. It was the all-FilAm team that arranged the event at the consulate. “We did not meet the father until the event itself,” said a consular official.
Members of the community expressed their disappointment, saying some people would try to make money from the community knowing how basketball-crazy Filipinos are.
“Grabe naman,” said one who attended the meet-and-greet. “He is already getting $12 million a year!” Clarkson has a four-year, $50 million contract with the Lakers.
A member of Clarkson’s FilAm team denied having anything to do with the fundraiser.
In a statement to this magazine, Janette Lachica said the “Fil-Am organizers who volunteered for this event did so with the main objective and honest intention to engage our Fil-Am Community with an NBA player who genuinely wanted to get to know us better, was willing to take photos and sign autographs for the attendees. By no means did we do this for any fees whatsoever, and did so for the sole benefit of the community alone. We were especially keen to volunteer upon learning of Jordan Clarkson’s interest in his Filipino roots and passion for working with children. It was important for us to have the children see this NBA role model so it can inspire and motivate them to pursue their dreams as well.”