Dwight Evan’s Favorite WAM Recipient Has Plenty of Problems

The Philadelphia Inquirer exposes another nonprofit with ties to a state lawmaker – this time House Democrat Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans – whose use of tax dollars seems sketchy at best. (HT GrassrootsPA).

The story looks at a night club purchased by the group, Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp, to provide an economic boost:

So far, however, the only benefits seem to have gone to the club’s former owners, a collection of prominent partners with past and present ties to the nonprofit group and its founder, State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.).

Evans is both the founder and chief patron of the group.

Evans, for instance, created OARC. Though he does not have a formal tie to the nonprofit group now, OARC counts on his continued patronage to secure state grants. Since 2000, it has received $23 million in state funding.

OARC’s fealty in return was on display last year when it established the Dwight Evans Leadership Award.

Among the first honorees? Young, who once worked for OARC and who is widely viewed as a protege of Evans’.

Evans was one of Young’s chief boosters when she was named to lead the Convention Center, a job that paid $245,000 in 2008. As president and CEO of the center, she supervises the region’s premier convention facility. She is also overseeing its $700 million expansion, a project funded, in part, by Evans’ efforts.

Not long after Young received the Evans award, OARC paid $47,000 to settle unpaid rent on her club. The money was ultimately part of the final purchase price of the business.

According to Investment Tracker, almost all of the state funding came from programs known as WAMs – discretionary funds controlled by legislative leaders. Former State Sen. Vince Fumo and former State Rep. Mike Veon had previously gotten in trouble for directing WAMs to nonprofits under their control.

Question: Is now the time to eliminate WAMs?