Pa. governor 'disappointed' with Democratic convention bonuses

Pa. governor 'disappointed' with Democratic convention bonuses
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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) says he is disappointed that the host committee tasked with putting on the 2016 Democratic National Convention paid out almost $1 million in staff bonuses rather than returning money from a state grant to taxpayers.

The host committee ultimately raised more than the $64 million it had budgeted to hold the convention last summer, where Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump and Sessions no longer speaking to one another: report Top aides urging Trump to stop public criticism of Sessions: report Poll: Nearly three-quarters of US Muslims view Trump as unfriendly to them MORE was nominated for president.

In a statement, Wolf criticized the host committee's decision to use some of its $4 million surplus to reward employees. Pennsylvania granted the host committee $10 million to pay for event costs in the months prior to the convention.

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"I am disappointed that when the host committee first discovered there was a surplus, the first call was not to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to discuss returning the money to the taxpayers," Wolf said. "When there is leftover funding, that money should be returned to taxpayers. I am disappointed that the surplus was instead spent on bonuses and grants."

The host committee in November approved payouts to its 12-member staff, including a $310,000 check to host committee executive director Kevin Washo. Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and the chairman of the host committee, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Washo's check included some back pay, along with a bonus.

"We're confident in our accounting and the fact that we spent the state money appropriately," said Anna Adams-Sarthou, a spokeswoman for the host committee. "The state, through the Department of Community and Economic Opportunity, granted the Host Committee $10 million to be used for very specific purposes ... and the funds were spent accordingly."

Adams-Sarthou said the DNC was not involved in the decision to grant the bonuses.

States like Pennsylvania routinely offer grants to help pay for major events, like a political convention, when the event is likely to generate significant economic activity.

An audit commissioned by Wolf's office found the $10 million grant was spent properly, in accordance with the contract between the state and the committee. Wolf's office referred the audit to Pennsylvania's auditor general on Monday.

Rendell said the state money was not used to pay employee bonuses. The audit found the host committee used the $10 million grant to fund construction costs, and the money was gone just nine days after it arrived in the committee's coffers.

The host committee also made $1.2 million in grants to Philadelphia-area nonprofit groups. It paid about $800,000 to Philadelphia for government services during the four-day gathering.

- Updated at 2:46 p.m.