Questionable Purchases with Credit Cards, Special Events & Other Expenditures
After identifying and reporting several questionable expenditures made in 2015 related to a special reserves account within the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia (Mayor’s Fund), the City Controller’s Office
conducted a follow-up review of select areas of concern. The purpose of conducting The Follow-Up Review of the Mayor’s Fund was to verify that expenditures were aligned with the Mayor’s Fund’s mission. Areas of review included the approval process for grant awards, credit card purchases, payments for special events and other expenditures.
The City Controller’s Office found that city employees charged purchases totaling $550,000 through two separate credit card accounts linked to the Mayor’s Fund in 2015. It was determined that hundreds of the expenditures appeared questionable, as many did not have documentation to substantiate the purchase. Some of the more significant findings involving the Mayor’s Fund spending included:
- $133,567, or more than half, of American Express credit card charges selected over a five-month period had no receipts or supporting documentation including:
- $11,010 for charges related to restaurants and meals
- $7,176 for charges related to airfare travel
- $677 for charges related to Amazon Marketplace
- $600 for room charges at the Doubletree Metropolitan New York for what appeared to be related to the annual, political PA Society event
Other questionable credit card charges throughout 2015 included:
- 458 Uber rides that totaled $8,738
- $1,181 for payments to Comcast, Verizon Wireless and the Pacific Gas & Electric company
Almost $100,000 was spent on hotel rooms and airfare for city employees, including some charges related to family members, in relation to the Papal Visit.
The former chairwoman provided $32,000 in grants without the Mayor’s Fund Board of Directors’ approval.
The 2015 Tree Lighting Ceremony cost $70,000, which was 300% more than in previous years and included lax payment approval through questionable invoices.
$22,000 in grant funds were spent for a private event at the University of the Arts where those invited included select city employees and individuals who were part of the Mayor’s 2007 campaign.
The City Controller’s Office has developed several recommendations to address the above findings. These include 1.) requiring that all funds be reimbursed that were not properly substantiated and did not support the mission of the Mayor’s Fund, 2.) eliminating the special Marathon Reserves account, and 3.) strengthening controls for credit card usage. Additional findings can be located within the report.