As Butkovitz launches probe into Nutter spending, former mayor denies any impropriety

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz describes what he says are questionable charges made to the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz describes what he says are questionable charges made to the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s Office of City Controller is investigating nearly $400,000 in expenditures from the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

The office has found several payments that did not have the organization’s board approval, said Alan Butkovitz, city controller.

One in particular, he said,  is former Mayor Michael Nutter’s $45,000 trip to Rome in June 2015. According to Butkovitz, the Nutter administration decided to fund the papal visit via the Mayor’s Fund because city officials would have been critical of the expenditures.

“If they had done it through regular city channels, if they had processed that trip through vouchers and through the treasurer’s office, we would have insisted on receipts, and we would’ve had an internal debate,” Butkovitz said. “And they knew that there would have been all sorts of scrutiny and controlled events.”

In response to the allegations, Nutter issued a statement on his website, fiercely castigating Butkovitz’s claims.

“There is no truth in what [Butkovitz] says,” Nutter said. “Every expenditure was proper and for an approved purpose and he never talked to either [former Mayor’s Fund chairwoman] Desiree Peterkin-Bell or myself about any concerns, which is standard procedure, before releasing this.”

Butkovitz said the investigation began at the request of Ashley Del Bianco, the Mayor’s Fund executive director.

“Apparently, this Ashley, this executive director, who complained about it, whatever she was told, she was silenced, and she didn’t go outside the chain of command,” Butkovitz said. “And the very minute the administration left town, she went to the new boss [Mayor Jim Kenney].”

Butkovitz also claimed several credit cards linked to the nonprofit were used to make purchases without the approval of the fund’s board. These purchases include a flight ticket from San Francisco to Philadelphia and $700 worth of Uber trips.

The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia receives most of its money from the city’s annual marathon. Its purpose is to provide grants for city agencies.

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