PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is strongly defending his administration against claims of financial mismanagement. On Tuesday, the city’s chief fiscal watchdog questioned tens of thousands of dollars in spending.
The spending in question was in regards to trips and special projects out of a special fund that drew money from the Philadelphia Marathon.
On Tuesday afternoon, in a statement from Nutter, he called Controller Alan Butkovitz a “liar,” and a “snake,” and Nutter said that he wasn’t even a part of the inquiry.
A $50,000 trip for city officials to Rome ahead of the Papal Visit, rooms at the Courtyard Marriot for another $50,000 during the World Meeting of Families, $700 in Uber rides and even an $80 pair of shoes, all of it paid from a non-profit known as the Mayor’s Fund which gets its cash from the Philadelphia Marathon.
“It appears the former chairperson used the reserves account as if it was a special slush fund,” Butkovitz said on Tuesday. He claimed that Desiree Peterkin-Bell, a former official with the Nutter administration, provided zero receipts, invoices or explanations for more than $100,000 in spending including those shoes bought at Macy’s.
“It’s extraordinarily dangerous. It’s completely unacceptable,” Butkovitz said. “It’s particularly concerning in an administration’s hallmark was transparency and honesty.”
Butkovitz and a team of investigators also called into question Nutter’s knowledge of how the reserve fund operated. “For some reason, the mayor didn’t want to have that scrutinized so then they go through this procedure that has no receipts and no information,” Butkovitz said.
Ashley DelBianco is executive director of the fund. The controller said that she tried to raise concerns while working under Peterkin-Bell, but was silenced. She admits to having questions about the spending. “The question was whether this other fund had the same level of oversight,” DelBianco told Eyewitness News.
In a statement, Nutter said “There is no truth in what he says. Every expenditure was proper and for an approved purpose and he never talked to either Desiree Peterkin-Bell or myself about any concerns, which is standard procedure, before releasing this slanderous, libelous and vicious bile from his mouth. He is a sad and sick person.”
Butkovitz’s spokesperson got back to Eyewitness News and said that Mayor Nutter had a non-response because of a lack of documentation. Nutter also questioned the timing of this, saying there are numerous law enforcement investigations descending on the city. He left it at that.