The state House Appropriations Committee is asking former Gov. Ed Rendell to testify before it next month on the use of surplus money from the Democratic National Convention host committee.
Rendell served as chairman of the host committee and authorized that nearly $1 million of its surplus be used for staff bonuses. Democratic Gov. Wolf and state Republicans have criticized the bonuses, noting that without a $10 million grant from the state -- the largest donation in the $86 million fund-raising effort-- the committee would not have had a surplus.
"In order to get a better sense of future legislative efforts, please expect to answer questions about how the surplus funds were spent," said the letter sent Wednesday to Rendell by State Rep. Stanley E. Saylor (R., York), chairman of the Appropriations Committee. The hearing is to be held June 15.
"This hearing will give you an opportunity to explain this specific situation from your view, as well as whether the state should continue to help fund nonstate government functions such as political conventions," Saylor wrote.
Rendell could not be reached immediately for comment.
The 2016 event was not the first time the state provided funds for a convention. It gave $9.4 million to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
The 2016 host committee was charged with fund-raising and organizing the events surrounding the July 25 to 28 convention. It wasn't until September, when the committee filed its financial reports with the Federal Election Commission, that it reported exceeding its fund-raising goal.
Following the initial fund-raising report, the committee used a multimillion-dollar surplus to pay the city more than $500,000 for municipal services incurred during the convention, make $1.2 million in grants to local nonprofits, and provide the nearly $1 million in bonuses. The bonuses paid in November ranged from $13,357 for the office manager, who was paid $3,000 monthly, to $310,000 for executive director Kevin Washo, who was paid $13,000 monthly through at least March of this year. (He has been working full-time at Cozen O'Connor since November.)
Rendell has defended the bonuses, saying the committee worked long hours for what he saw as low pay. He has said that no taxpayer money was used for the extra pay and that the $10 million was kept in a separate account. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced last week that he would audit the $10 million state grant.
Mayor Kenney issued a statement this week saying he agreed that an audit was necessary.
"Moving forward, any major events in Philadelphia that receive taxpayer-funded grants should have clear, transparent processes for managing any excess funds," Kenney said.
Stephen A. Miskin, spokesman for the state House Republican Caucus, said there was no bill attached to the hearing. The committee mostly wants to hear from Rendell and others involved in prior political conventions about the use of state money.