Energy - May 19, 2017

Auditor General DePasquale reviewing state grant to Committee that hosted 2016 DNC

In 2016 the state gave a $10 million grant to the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee to help with the Democratic National Convention. Now, after reports from Philadelphia newspapers about questionable use of leftover funds, the Auditor General’s office is investigating. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said this week that his office should complete the review by the end of the July. Reports are that the committee used leftover money to pay bonuses to staffers; to the tune of $1 million. Governor Wolf and state Republicans asked for the investigation. DePasquale stated that they’ll be looking at whether the grant was appropriately authorized, if expenditures match the grant agreement, and whether state and private money were mixed. That last part is important, according to DePasquale, because if the money was mixed together, they can look at how all of it was used. If not, they can only examine the grant itself. The Committee claims that the state grant and private money were not mixed together and had a accounting firm audit the grant. Their findings were that the money was appropriately spent within nine days of receiving it. Republican lawmakers are skeptical of that report and asked the Auditor General to do his own review. The Committee has said they will comply with the audit.

Former Governor Ed Rendell was chairman of the host committee and has defended how the money was spent. He has also agreed to cooperate with the audit. He’s publically stated that the bonuses were for the long hours and hard work the committee put in and that no taxpayer money was used for said bonuses. Still, some committee staff were still being paid monthly salaries through March. Should the state audit find that the grant money was misspent, DePasquale said he could recommend it be paid back to the state. Additionally he noted that  this situation lends itself to helping the state improve the grant awarding process overall.