Philadelphia, February 15, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter sent a letter to the Philadelphia Ethics Board, asking it to issue a statement that would resolve concerns raised by the William Penn Foundation in connection with the City’s lobbying registration and reporting ordinance and grant making by non-profits like the Foundation. The Nutter Administration’s position as noted in the letter is that “Grant making by foundations and other philanthropic organizations … is not lobbying.”
In the letter, sent to J. Shane Creamer Jr., Philadelphia Ethics Board executive director, Mayor Nutter said, “I write to urge the Board of Ethics, which regulates and enforces the City’s lobbying ordinance, to clarify that the ordinance does not apply to grants that are made at the request of City Departments or City-related agencies … Funders should not be deterred from continuing their support because of any confusion that their grants constitute lobbying.”
The Mayor’s letter to the Ethics Board was in response to a Feb. 7 letter from the William Penn Foundation to the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, Inc., a non-profit that advances the Mayor’s goals for the City through public-private partnerships. The Foundation said it was suspending new grant making to City-related agencies due to perceived uncertainties related to the lobbying ordinance and its grant making activity. And specifically, the Foundation said it was not able to support “at this time” a grant request from the City for funding the initial design phase of the proposed Bartram’s Mile Riverfront Trail and Park, a proposal supported by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Mayor Nutter in his letter to the Ethics Board said he was concerned that the Foundation’s decision “could chill grant-making to the City and City-related agencies.” Responding to the Mayor’s letter, Mr. Creamer said in a letter today that he will present the City’s request at next Wednesday’s board meeting ( Feb. 20 at 1 p.m.) along with a staff proposed response.