Former representative from Nutter administration admits to spending city money on herself

Melanie Johnson agreed to pay a fine and reimburse the city.

Pat Loeb
September 13, 2018 - 9:09 pm
Philadelphia City Hall

Courtesy of Paul Gluck

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has settled with a former city official who used two city funds to buy expensive items and trips for her personal use. 

Melanie Johnson became city representative under Mayor Michael Nutter, which automatically made her chair of the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia and of the Wawa Welcome America festival. 

The Ethics Board said she opened credit card accounts for both funds and had cards issued in her name, which she then used to buy items for her personal benefit, including "payments for travel, hotels, meals, an iPad, miscellaneous personal purchases," according to Michael Cooke, director of enforcement.

Johnson agreed to pay a fine and reimburse the city. Not mentioned in the report released Thursday, however, is that her successor continued the practice, which prompted a change in rules at the Mayor's Fund to prevent it in the future.

Settlements were also announced for Republican district attorney candidate Beth Grossman, who received more than the legal limit in contributions from a state senator, Scott Wagner — now her party's candidate for governor. Grossman agreed to pay a fine for accepting more than $20,000 from Wagner, who settled his part of the case in April.

Additionally, Mayor Jim Kenney's labor liaison, Rich Lazer, agreed to pay a fine for exploring a run for Congress while on the city payroll. Lazer left the administration before announcing his candidacy and returned after losing the primary.