Sunday, July 5, 2015

Comfort all around for Redd and Bowman & Co.

The "comfort zone" relationship between Camden politicians and Bowman & Co. extends even further than just political campaign contributions and contract payments. The Redd campaign pays Bowman to audit the campaign's finances; so does the Leaders Fund, South Jersey Democratic political action committee.

Comfort all around for Redd and Bowman & Co.

0 comments

“It's a comfort zone.”

That’s what Camden City Council President Frank Moran told me of the city’s relationship with Bowman & Co. LLP for my Sunday story on apparent pay-to-play violations.

The city has contracted with Bowman for at least 15 years and Moran believes it’s fine to continue that relationship. The firm knows the city’s books inside and out and the city is moving in the right direction, Moran says.

But critics say that being in the comfort zone with auditors is a problem.

A 2008 New Jersey Comptroller’s Office report on government agencies’ use of auditing firms recommended that agencies be required to change auditors at least every 10 years.

The recommendation was based partly on a review that found that the longer a school district’s audit firm held the engagement, the greater the disparity between the state-contracted auditor and the district audit’s firm’s results.

The comptroller's office also recommended that government entities should not hire any audit firm that has made political contributions on a local or state level in the year preceding the audit engagement.

Camden has followed neither recommendation.

In the last year, 10 partners at South Jersey auditing firm Bowman & Company LLP have contributed at least $4,250 directly to Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd's re-election campaign. The contributions were scheduled in such a way as to make them count over two separate years, thus keeping the Bowman donors below the $2,500 aggregate limit set in the city's pay-to-play ordinance.

But both the 2012 and 2013 payments were made in the middle of the bid review process, raising concerns in the Comptroller’s Office.

The cozy relationship extends even further than just political campaign contributions and contract payments.

“Redd for Mayor,” Redd’s reelection campaign, paid Bowman $250 in 2012 for campaign accounting services, according to her April 2012 campaign finance report.

The Leaders Fund, a South Jersey Democratic political action committee which helps various local candidates, also paid Bowman $500 in 2011 for accounting services.

Redd has not returned my call for comment but her spokesman Robert Corrales has said that she was not involved in the audit contract decisions.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Allison Steele writes about Camden’s schools, government and businesses. Most importantly, she writes about the city’s residents. She is a former crime reporter who covered the Camden and Philadelphia police departments for the Inquirer. A Philly native, she has been with the Inquirer since 2008.

Send comments, tips and story ideas to asteele@philly.com, call 856-779-3876, or reach out on Twitter @AESteele.

Reach Allison at .

Allison Steele
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter