Controller Butkovitz Calls for $240,000 Reimbursement to Mayor’s Fund

For Immediate Release
March 29, 2017

Contact:  Brian Dries

Controller Butkovitz Calls for $240,000 Reimbursement to Mayor’s Fund
City Controller issues latest findings of ongoing investigation into city’s non-profit

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the latest findings from his ongoing investigation into the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia that found almost $220,000 in questionable credit card purchases that were not properly documented.

The Mayor’s Fund, a city-run non-profit, maintained credit card accounts with cards issued to four city employees. Of the $334,000 in total purchases in 2015 that were examined, more than half could not be substantiated with proper documentation and justify how the expense met the mission of the Mayor’s Fund.  Some of these purchases included:
•    $11,010 for charges related to restaurants and meals
•    $7,176 for charges related to airfare travel
•    $4,000 for charges related to ride-sharing services and taxis

“Without any receipts or signed approval forms, it is unknown how these charges, if any, benefited the mission of the Mayor’s Fund,” said Butkovitz. “I am calling on the Mayor’s Fund to seek reimbursement for all purchases that were not properly documented and justified.”

While some documentation was provided to account for purchases made by three of the employees, there were no receipts or approvals provided for the charges made by the former chairwoman, who had access to credit cards on two separate accounts. This included hundreds of Uber rides throughout the year along with other purchases that appeared highly questionable such as:
•    $1,700 associated with a catering contract with the Hyatt at the Bellevue for an event entitled, “Purpose Not Position”. It appears the former chairwoman utilized another employee’s credit card to make the purchase.
•    $599 for room charges at the DoubleTree Metropolitan New York, which appeared to be related to the annual PA Society event.

“The Mayor’s Fund serves as an essential fiscal agent to fund programs that are supposed to benefit Philadelphians of all ages,” said Butkovitz. “Just because it is not city money does not mean it should be treated as a grab bag of cash with no oversight or accountability.”

Along with the questionable use of credit cards, the Controller’s Office found $22,100 was paid through the Mayor’s Fund for the former Mayor’s farewell party for the  without the Board’s approval and not consistent with the non-profit’s mission. It was discovered that those invited were the former Mayor’s executive team, certain staff and those who assisted on the 2007 campaign.

According to Controller Butkovitz, the executive director raised concerns with the former chairwoman that the event was a celebration and goodbye party and that it was not the policy or practice to use Mayor’s Fund resources for this type of activity.

“It appeared the event was a VIP party for those who were part of the former Mayor’s inner circle,” said Butkovitz. “The former Mayor should reimburse the Mayor’s Fund for the costs associated for his farewell party.  

“It was wrong for the city’s former leader and others in power to use the Mayor’s Fund’s money to fund a farewell bash, especially when this is money that is supposed to support youth programs, families in need, environmental initiatives and many other community-based programs.”

Controller Butkovitz recommends that the Mayor’s Fund Board needs to take several actions to ensure that this type of activity does not continue, including limiting credit card usage and establishing spending limits; and designating all monies for programs be approved by the Board through grants.

The City Controller’s follow-up review was a result of uncovering several questionable expenditures involving hotel rooms and airfare related to the Papal Visit. The latest report expanded into other areas of expenditures throughout 2015. While the City Controller’s investigation will be ongoing, the latest report has been sent to several local, state and federal agencies.