Butkovitz Says Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia Was Used Like A Slush Fund

For Immediate Release
Aug. 16, 2016

Contact:  Brian Dries
215-686-8869

Butkovitz Says Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia Was Used Like A Slush Fund
City Controller discovers several red flags, announces more in-depth investigation

PHILADELPHIA - City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the review of the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia (Fund) that found numerous instances of questionable spending related to $400,000 designated for grant awards.

The Fund, which operates as a non-profit primarily from the proceeds of the Philadelphia Marathon, allocated $200,000 in 2014 and 2015 to a special account called the “Marathon Reserves”, which all monies were supposed to support grants for initiatives to improve the city.

However, only five of the 21 expenditures selected for review appeared to be grant related.  The majority of payments were associated with several credit cards linked to the Fund and there were no supporting invoices or explanation as to the purpose of the charges.  Many of the expenditures were made by the Fund’s former chairperson under the prior mayoral administration and were done so without the Board’s approval.

“It was clear the former chairperson substantially circumvented all policies and approvals,” said Butkovitz, at today’s press conference.  “This action resulted in several questionable expenditures that raised red flags across the board.”

The Controller’s auditors discovered almost $52,000 was charged at the Philadelphia Courtyard Marriott for expenses from Sept. 15, 2015 through Oct. 3, 2015. There were no receipts provided, no record of how many rooms were purchased or who the rooms were for.

Other credit card purchases that were not grant related, not approved by the Board and contained no supporting invoices included the following:
•    $45,000 - purchases made for flights and hotels to Rome, Italy in June 2015
•    $704 - charges for 33 Uber rides in one month
•    $333 - several charges relating to lodging and food in Portland, Oregon
•    $80 - for a pair of women’s shoes from Macy’s

“It appears the former chairperson used the account as if it were a special slush fund,” said Butkovitz. “I find it absolutely intolerable the former chairperson used this account to purchase shoes.”

In addition, the Marathon Reserves account was used to fund celebration events instead of making grant awards.  This included the $45,000 paid to various vendors for the Mayor’s 2015 Tree Lighting Ceremony.

According to Controller Butkovitz, the origin of the vendors’ invoices for this particular event is very concerning and will be fully investigated.

“I will be conducting a more in-depth investigative audit of the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia,” said Butkovitz.  “Based on initial findings, the Marathon Reserves did not help fund projects to benefit all Philadelphians.  It was a fund to benefit only a select few.”

The City Controller’s review was done at the request of the Fund’s executive director based on several concerns over the types of expenditures and how the Marathon Reserves account was being used.

“When individuals try to skirt policies and oversight, it is not only wrong but downright immoral,” said Butkovitz.

To view the City Controller’s review of the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 along with additional media visuals, visit www.philadelphiacontroller.org

###

Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia:  The entity is a 501 (c)(3) organization that works in close partnership with the City of Philadelphia and private sector partners to advance initiatives that reflect Mayoral priorities and seek to improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians.  It serves as a fiscal agent for certain agencies and manages between $7-to-$10 million annually for City programs that primarily encompass education and health, environment and sustainability, government efficiency and effectiveness, place of choice and public safety.  During the period covered in the City Controller’s review, the Fund’s Board consisted of nine members and had a staff of five employees.

Download Attachment