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Ethics Board Ruling Clarifies City’s Lobbying Law For William Penn Foundation

credit: Steve Tawa

credit: Steve Tawa

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The William Penn Foundation has lifted its self-imposed suspension of considering grant requests from city agencies after getting word from the Philadelphia Ethics Board that such grants would not trigger the city’s lobbying law (see related story).

Mayor Nutter asked to clarify the applicability of the city’s lobbying code after the William Penn Foundation, which awards millions of dollars worth of grants each year in and around Philadelphia, had put on hold routine city grant-making activity.

Those city grant requests included one for a trail along the Schuylkill River and through Bartram’s Garden, as well as the Bloomberg Philanthropy “Mayor’s Challenge.”

The Ethics Board has concluded that those projects were not subject to “registration and reporting requirements of the Lobbying Code” because they were requested by the city.

The board did not address the specific issue that prompted the William Penn Foundation to suspend new grants — a complaint by public school advocates- – over a study on the School District’s restructuring.  The parent group’s complaint is still pending.

“The complaint filed deals with very different issues which would not arise in a typical grant to public agencies,” said public school parent Cathy Roccia-Meier.

Critics say the consultant’s study was founded through and at the direction of the foundation.