Tuesday, July 3, 2012
In Ford Heights Mayor's Taxpayer-funded Nonprofit under Investigation, the Chicago Tribune reports that “a south suburban mayor's taxpayer-funded nonprofit has been suspended from state and county grant programs over questions about its finances and accounting.” According to the story, the Illinois Attorney General's office is also now investigating the nonprofit, the Commission on Economic Opportunity (“CEO”). CEO is described as a “job-training nonprofit directed by Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin.” The story reports that CEO “has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and cars to Griffin and other executives, and the board charged with watching the purse includes Griffin's family members and political supporters ....” One aspect of the investigation, reports the story, is focusing on money that CEO received through the Put Illinois to Work program, funded federally and later by the state, which allowed CEO to provide administrative services for 700 workers hired by various employers in 2010. Apparently, the latest scrutiny follows other inquiries into CEO’s finances. The story continues:
Illinois suspended CEO from one of its grant programs in November 2010 after finding "widespread deficiencies" with its financial management and accounting practices, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The nonprofit was suspended from Cook County's job-grant program last year after it failed to address questions about how money was spent, said Cook County Works director Karin Norington-Reaves.
Griffin reportedly has characterized the investigation as a political “witch hunt” and a “‘conspiracy’ to shutter minority-run jobs programs."