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Tag: Commerce Department


MLK nonprofit and state agency look bad in audit

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

A state audit of the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association paints a disturbing picture of mismanagement bordering on wrongdoing – if not actually crossing the line into deliberate misappropriation of public funds.

The audit released Monday supports findings from a year ago by an accountant hired by the state Commerce Department. The accountant had found that the housing nonprofit misspent $1.8 million of the more than $4 million in state and federal funding it had received to build a mixed-use business and housing center on Tacoma’s Hilltop. That project has gone nowhere.

Like most developers in the last few years, the MLKHDA was hit hard by the recession and collapsing real estate values. And it suffered from poor management and lax board oversight. But some actions the audit confirmed look even more serious.

For instance, MLK didn’t pay several of its vendors, even though it had submitted invoices to the state for those expenses and had received reimbursements. And the nonprofit wrongly used grant funds to pay off other loans and cover operational costs. This seems to go beyond mere bookkeeping errors. Read more »