Meta Platforms Inc.
said Wednesday it has canceled its sponsorship agreement with the organization planning the federal government’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the U.S., a project beset by internal strife and facing a discrimination lawsuit filed by female former executives.
Meta said in March it would review its ties to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and its affiliated America250 Foundation following Wall Street Journal reports detailing feuds among the congressionally appointed commissioners and accusations of mismanagement and misuse of federal funds by former employees.
“All the leadership dysfunction was super concerning,” a person familiar with the matter said. Among other issues, when Meta, then known as Facebook, made the deal in June 2021, the company had been under the impression that it would be one of many corporate sponsors, the person said; to date, it is the only company that has signed on, people familiar with the issue said.
Daniel DiLella, a Philadelphia-area developer who is chairman of both the Semiquincentennial Commission and the America250 Foundation, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In a March statement, he said the project has “hit many roadblocks along the way, and there may be more, but we are on the right path to fulfill our sacred mission to honor this great country.”
A foundation spokesman said: “The America250 Foundation remains confident that it will be working with Meta in the future—the company supports our mission of bringing the country together around this national milestone.” The spokesman added the organization was speaking with other companies about potential sponsorship arrangements.
Andrew Hohns, a member of the Semiquincentennial Commission and a critic of its leadership, said Meta’s decision points to broader problems.
“We need a fresh start with this project, one that involves many more Americans and is focused on historic preservation, national renewal and bold ambition,” said Mr. Hohns, chief executive of Philadelphia investment firm Newmarket Capital.
The social-media giant has already paid America250 the first $2 million installment of a $10 million deal through 2026 to serve as the exclusive “social connectivity” partner, with an inside role in planning and presenting the observances and the right to use America250 branding. America250 won’t receive the remaining $8 million balance, a Meta spokesman said.
Meta’s contribution was America250’s largest single source of funding apart from the federal government, records show.
“While we are no longer a corporate sponsor, we look forward to seeing commemoration efforts come to life for this special anniversary,” said Joe Osborne, a Meta spokesman. The company notified America250 on Tuesday it was pulling out, Mr. Osborne said.
The Semiquincentennial Commission was created by Congress in 2016 to plan observances leading to the anniversary on July 4, 2026.
Write to Jess Bravin at [email protected]
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Appeared in the June 23, 2022, print edition as ‘Meta Pulls Backing From 1776 Festivities.’