Report: DNC Committee Promised to Give Leftover Funds to Charity

But $1 million in surplus funding went toward bonus checks for its 12-member staff.
Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center - end

Photo: Dan McQuade

The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention had pledged to donate money left over after the event to charity, according to a report published by Philly.com this weekend.

But the committee used about $1 million of that surplus money to hand out bonus checks (ranging between about $13,000 and $220,000) to its own staff (which was offered weekly salaries) last November.

In December of 2014, the committee filed a declaration stating that, in order to achieve tax-exempt status, it would distribute surplus money upon its dissolution “to an organization or organizations which shall, at the time of such disposition, be organized and operated exclusively for charitable and/or educational purposes … In no event shall any of such assets or property be distributed to any member, director or officer, or to any private individual,” according to documents obtained by Philly.com.

It did do that – in part. In addition to the bonus checks, the committee also used leftover funds to donate $750,000 to the Philadelphia School District’s Right Books Campaign and offered several $10,000 grants to various nonprofits.

Gov. Ed Rendell, who chaired the committee and signed off on the bonuses, reportedly said he had always planned to provide staff with additional compensation after the event (provided that the group raised more than enough money).

Thanks to corporate and private donors – and taxpayers, who footed the largest portion of the event bill – the committee raised $85 million for the event, surpassing its $60 million goal.

Committee members were offered weekly salaries – and former Gov. Ed Rendell, who chaired the committee and signed off on the bonuses, reportedly said he had always planned to provide staff with additional compensation after the event (provided that the group raised more than enough money).

Last week, Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that his office will investigate how the committee used the $10,000 it received from taxpayers. The committee has repeatedly claimed that none of the state money went toward the bonus checks – and a previous audit by an independent public accounting firm claims that the organization spent the taxpayer grant in compliance with a contract between the state and the committee.

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