A special account used by former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter’s staff was treated like a “slush fund” to pay for women’s shoes, flights and hotel rooms, City Controller Alan Butkovitz said Tuesday releasing findings of a spending probe.
The accusations didn’t sit well with Michael Nutter who fired back in a scathing attack calling Butkovitz a “liar, snake and a hypocrite.”
“The Controller is a liar, a snake and a hypocrite. There is no truth in what he says, every expenditure was proper and for an approved purpose and he never talked to either Desiree Peterkin-Bell or myself about any concerns, which is standard procedure, before releasing this slanderous, libelous and vicious bile from his mouth,” Nutter said.
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“He is a sad and sick person.”
The Controller’s office investigation centers around money spent through The Mayor’s Fund, a nonprofit set up primarily to collect and spend revenue from the Philadelphia Marathon on community projects. Butkovitz said a review found $400,000 in questionable spending. The money was transferred in $200,000 increments to a special account called “Marathon Reserves” over a two year period.
Butkovitz said the money is supposed to be used on grant projects to benefit the city and that approval by a board overseeing the fund is required, but the controller claims neither happened. Money was spent using several credit cards linked to the fund, the controller said.
Desiree Peterkin-Bell, the former City Representative and high-level aide to Nutter, was fund chair when the spending took place.
The audit showed $52,000 was spent at the Courtyard by Marriott across from City Hall from Sept. 15, 2015 through Oct. 3, 2015 – a period of time that included Pope Francis’ visit. Butkovitz said there’s no invoices and no record of how many rooms were reserved.
Other spending Butkovitz deemed questionable includes:
- $45,000 for flights and hotels for a trip to Rome, Italy in June 2015
- $704 in Uber rides during a one month period
- $333 for lodging and food in Portland, Oregon
- $80 for a pair of women’s shoes at Macy’s
“It appears the former chairperson used the account as if it were a special slush fund,” Butkovitz said at a press conference Tuesday. “I find it absolutely intolerable the former chairperson used this account to purchase shoes.”
The funding was only approved by Peterkin-Bell, Butkovitz said. There was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Butkovitz added, but he plans to further investigate the spending.
Peterkin-Bell told NBC10's Monique Braxton that the Executive Director signed off on all expenditures including ones outlined by Butkovitz.
The audit was requested by Ashley Del Bianco when she took over as Executive Director in 2015. She was appointed to the position by Nutter.
Del Bianco said she asked for the probe after $45,000 was spent to pay vendors for a holiday celebration. She said some of the spending wasn't "appropriate in support of the mayor's policies and procedures."
The Mayor’s Fund provides funding for a number of projects including the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, PowerCorps PHL and community schooling, according to its website.