ronn torossian foundation blog

Public Funds, a Troubled Charity and Enough Bad PR

Controversy. This sums up the claims made by Community Action of Minneapolis, CEO, Bill Davis that low income families need additional, federal assistance to help them pay their heating bills as the weather chills and water freezes. The nonprofit supports heating, job training and food-stamp amenities for low-income Minnesotans. The obstacle in these claims, of more necessary funding for the nonprofit, have been clearly exposed after staff persons at the Commerce Department were baffled when attempting to decipher where Davis’ nonprofit misspent over $1 million in specific energy funds. These funds are to be returned with the objective of redirecting it to people in need, who qualify under certain guidelines.

The analysis by staff members at the Commerce Department shocked both Ronn Torossian and other onlookers as the resulting data showed that money, meant to supply energy for low-income qualifiers, was rationed to residents who are not eligible for the aide. Unfortunately for CEO Bill Davis, the examination revealed to Mike Rothman—the Minnesota Commerce Commissioner— that funds were misplaced and misrepresented in 2011.

Yet despite these warning signs, the state continued to source money into what has become a severely controversial nonprofit. Apparently, Mike Rothman could not detach his ties with Community Action, though he claims that his relationship with the nonprofit has been strictly professional. As a result of the investigation, several staff members were informed that, “…political ramifications are greater than [the staff] would understand,” and this led to staff members becoming silent as an operation continued to illegally spend the people’s money. When staffed employees complained further, many lost their positions or were severely punished for speaking out.

By the time the Minnesota Department of Human Services got involved, Community Action had to close down from an intensive audit revealing how Bill Davis overcharged grants, both state and federal, of over $600,000 in administrative fees. The non-profit also spent over $226,679 to cover pay bonuses for employees, food, spas, alcohol, golfing and trips to the Bahamas. The state is now attempting to return money from the nonprofit where 41 employees became jobless.

This is a deep ditch of troubles for CEO Bill Davis. Some have lost their jobs and others have sat home without heating during the winter. Though Davis still hails himself an advocate for the poor, his former employees continue to complain of his excessive salary reaching $273,000.