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Former Mayor, Michael A. Nutter, and Desiree Peterkin Bell are under fire for $52,000 that was not accounted for in the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia.
Former Mayor, Michael A. Nutter, and Desiree Peterkin Bell are under fire for $52,000 that was not accounted for in the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia.

The former Mayor's 'Slush Fund' hasn't cleaned up with spring

What once was a call in the dark from the City Controller Alan Butkovitz is now the talk of political circles throughout the city.

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While Mayor Kenney celebrated his 1 year anniversary in office earlier this year, Mayor Nutter's term as mayor is still under scrutiny across the city.

Nutter and former city representative and chair of the Mayor's fund, Desiree Peterkin Bell, are being targeted for not fully accounting for the $52,000 in spending in 2015. 

Calling the claims "baseless," Peterkin Bell said in a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "I sincerely still believe that facts matter in the end, your proven record matters."

The Mayor's Fund is a city-run nonprofit funded mostly by the Philadelphia Marathon that manages up to $10 million a year to support various initiatives throughout the city, including education, culture, and tourism.

A review that started with the City Controller Alan Butkovitz diving deeper into claims based on Del Bianco's statement in August 2016, is being revisited.

Known for its work with My Brother's Keeper and other initiatives, the money in the Mayor's Fund is was split in 2015 without notive of board members. “The grant fund was for scholarships and for grants to organizations that were going to perform any of the five core functions. Then the reserve account was for anything else, without definition,” said Butkovitz to Philadelphia Magazine. “So, basically, they took $200,000 out of a $500,000 fund and had no rules for how they were to be spent.”

Stating that the reserve account was specially created for the misuse of funds, Butkovitz state that the fund’s executive director, Ashley Del Bianco, was the person who alerted him to these claims. The review began in January of 2016, and scrutinized $400,000 in expenditures between 2014 and 2015. “Instead of making grant awards, it appears the former chairperson used the reserves account as if it were a special slush fund,” Butkovitz said. “Only five of the 21 sampled expenditures appeared to be grant-related.”

From Uber rides and travel to stays at the Philadelphia Courtyard Mariott, the claims of unscrupulous spending surrounding the fund have become a game of political back-and-forth and accusations. And some are calling for outside scrutiny. Tish Morgan, the standards for excellence director for the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, has called for even the likes of the Attorney General to investigate. 

 

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