Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s “Peace Not Guns” organization might’ve been nebulous, but the money it received was real — and much more than the councilman has previously admitted.
Johnson came under fire in June when now-defunct Axis Philly reported that his charity was not officially registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, the Inquirer reports it has examined the organization’s financial reports at Johnson’s invitation — and found it took in more than $10,000 since 2008, more than the “hundreds of dollars” Johnson previously described.
In years past, the group has staged community banquets with antiviolence speakers, book bag giveaways, rallies, and prayer vigils. Today, it mostly focuses on an annual teens-vs.-police officers basketball game in Point Breeze, aimed at fostering better relations.
Johnson said he never meant for the group to be a “fund-raising entity,” as he put it, and if it didn’t keep good records, it’s “no excuse … I was a community organizer prior to becoming an elected official, and I was just focused on the [group's] mission.”
Johnson’s arrangements have received criticism from experts on non-profit funding; Zack Stalberg, the recently departed director of Committee of Seventy, has called for a formal investigation.