Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has concluded that more than $1 million in bonuses paid to staff of the host committee of the 2016 Democratic National Convention didn’t violate an agreement governing a state grant to assist the gathering.
DePasquale did say the IRS should consider whether bonuses paid to two staff members comply with federal regulations governing nonprofit organizations.
Philadelphia 2016, the local committee formed to host the convention, raised more than $85 million.
Most of the money came from private sources, but the state did provide $10 million to support infrastructure for the event.
When the committee ended up with a surplus, chairman Ed Rendell decided to award the bonuses to staff he said had worked long hours for too little pay.
DePasquale launched a review to see if the state grant agreement required the committee to hand any surplus back to taxpayers.
The review, released Monday, says the host committee deposited the state grant into a bank account separate from privately raised funds, and that it was used not for salary but for goods and services in support of the convention.
“We believe the grant agreement was complied with,” DePasquale said in a phone interview, “but the grant agreement was not tough enough.”
DePasquale said he’s asking the IRS to look into whether bonuses paid to two staff members who were also board members, Kevin Washo and Eliza Rose, comply with federal regulations.
“Given the confusing nature of nonprofit laws and the fact that two members of the nonprofit Bid and Host committees received payouts raised enough issues with my team that we believe it is appropriate for the IRS to review,” DePasquale said.
Washo, the committee’s executive director, received a $310,000 bonus. Rose, the chief operating officer, received $43,238.
Rendell says the report shows the committee followed the rules, and he noted that the leftover money didn’t just go to salaries.
“Thanks to our strong fundraising and budgeting, we were not only able to put on what many have called the most successful political convention in recent history, but we were able to donate $1.2 million to local nonprofits, including $750,000 to the Philadelphia School District,” Rendell said.