Go to Anaheim says it won’t pay again $1.5 million in pandemic aid funds that town of Anaheim stated appeared to have been inappropriately diverted.
Legal professionals representing the tourism bureau stated in a Wednesday, Nov. 22, letter to town that whereas Go to Anaheim did ship an Anaheim Chamber of Commerce nonprofit $1.5 million, the cash got here from the company’s working funds and wasn’t pandemic aid cash.
Town in 2020 gave Go to Anaheim $6.5 million to assist promote tourism restoration. Metropolis-hired investigators alleged that $1.5 million of that grant was surreptitiously diverted to a chamber nonprofit. Metropolis Legal professional Robert Fabela in August demanded that Go to Anaheim instantly return the $1.5 million.
Nonetheless, Go to Anaheim’s legal professionals stated the $6.5 million given by town in 2020 to assist promote tourism restoration was correctly spent, and they’re assured that the California State Auditor, who’s investigating how the tourism bureau has spent public funds, will show that.
“We see no foundation to require the return of any portion of this funding,” Go to Anaheim’s attorneys from the agency Larson LLP wrote within the letter.
Go to Anaheim’s response, stated metropolis spokesperson Mike Lyster, “falls in need of our request relating to the $1.5 million given the questions which have been raised.”
“We are going to proceed to overview the response and look to any course and subsequent steps from our Metropolis Council,” Lyster stated.
Former Mayor Harry Sidhu directed then-president and CEO of Go to Anaheim Jay Burress to divert the $1.5 million, in accordance with the city-hired investigators.
Go to Anaheim’s legal professionals known as the phrases of the 2020 settlement broad. The legal professionals stated they’ve been in a position to monitor and overview the whole lot of how the $6.5 million was spent, with the vast majority of cash going towards advertising and marketing, gross sales and communications. They added that Go to Anaheim initially marked the $1.5 million as coming from the coronavirus restoration funds however was modified to “regular division finances codes.”
On the finish of 2021, Go to Anaheim had greater than $10 million in web belongings, in accordance with tax filings with the IRS. Tax filings for the chamber’s nonprofit, known as the Anaheim Financial Growth Company, present revenues of round $750,000 a 12 months in 2020 and 2021. Earlier than that, the nonprofit’s revenues have been far decrease, having not eclipsed $200,000 since 2011.
Go to Anaheim in September ended an ongoing funding settlement with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, in accordance with the letter. Burress, who resigned on Nov. 10 from his job main Go to Anaheim, advised city-hired investigators that the chamber was estimated to obtain $700,000 in 2023 from a portion of Go to Anaheim’s share of a lodge tax.
Burress, in accordance with a city-commissioned investigative report launched in July, stated he approached the chamber a number of years in the past and stated Go to Anaheim was paying them an excessive amount of cash and there wanted to be a cap.
The State Auditor is analyzing how Go to Anaheim and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce have used public cash. Town expects the state audit to be out in early 2024.