A troubled history
The Council for Progress, later named Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, is formed "to assist the City of Philadelphia in the preparation, planning, and fundraising for its tricentennial celebration," according to the fund website.
The Council files for and becomes a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
The City Representative becomes the chair of the Council for Progress and its name is changed to the Fund for Philadelphia.
Fund bosses spent $271,000 on parties, the Daily News reports. Executive director Ida Flowers is charged with stealing a $3,000 federal grant.
Then-Mayor Michael Nutter appoints his campaign spokeswoman, Melanie Johnson, as City Representative, which includes overseeing the Fund.
Bureau of Administrative Adjudication director flags a parking ticket Johnson pays with a check from the Fund, and Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman recommends reviewing several years of expenses.
Nutter is notified that Johnson has made numerous questionable purchases with a credit card linked to the fund. The Inspector General’s Office investigates.
Inspector General Amy Kurland tells Nutter to fire Johnson after concluding Johnson made $733 worth of unauthorized purchases.
Nutter gives Johnson a new title: Director of Research and Marketing for Big Events. Another top aide, Desiree Peterkin Bell, is named City Representative, and takes over the Fund.
Finance Director Rob Dubow emails Johnson, telling her to repay $733. Johnson complies.
Johnson leaves city government as Mayor Kenney takes office.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz says a preliminary investigation found Desiree Peterkin Bell used the fund as a “slush fund,” spending close to $400,000 on travel, hotels and restaurants.
The FBI interviews Kurland and other staffers about the Johnson case
An Inquirer and Daily News review of Johnson’s Mayor’s Fund-linked credit card statements and financial records finds a hefty restaurant bills at Cuba Libre and Maggiano's, and other large purchases that lack any documented explanation.
After an extensive review of financial records obtained through a Right-to-Know request, the Inquirer and Daily News report that Desiree Peterkin Bell racked up about $52,000 worth of undocumented spending on credit cards linked to the Mayor's Fund in 2015. City Controller Alan Butkovitz separately calls on the Law Department and the Mayor's Fund to recoup any undocumented or unauthorized expenditures.