Monday, March 5, 2012

Democrat Delegate Steered Millions in Taxpayer Dollars to MD Food Bank while Board Member

Delegate Steven J. DeBoy (D-Baltimore, Howard) has funneled over $1 million in taxpayer dollars to the Maryland Food Bank while he was a member of its board of directors. DeBoy’s daughter, Amanda Walsh, works as an events coordinator for the Maryland Food Bank. It also appears the organization violated it’s own employment policies by hiring Walsh.

Legislative records show that since 2006 DeBoy filed six bond bill appropriations for the Maryland Food Bank totaling $1.1 million. The legislature does note vote on individual bond bills, rather they amend the state’s capital budget with selected projects for funding. DeBoy voted yes for all the capital budgets, which appropriated $1.6 million for the Maryland Food Bank. In 2011, DeBoy was lead sponsor of a $500,000 bond for renovations and an addition to MFB’s Baltimore offices, which included a shower and gym for employees.

DeBoy is a former member of the Maryland Food Bank Board of Directors. He joined the board in February of 2006. DeBoy’s General Assembly bio states he joined the MFB board in 2005 and is still a member.

Amanda Walsh’s wedding announcement dated April 23, 2010 noted her employment with the food bank. DeBoy left the board in July 2010 according to an undated press release. The Maryland Daily Record noted the same Maryland Food Bank board transitions. A corroborating report in The Maryland Daily Record puts the transitions as occurring in July 2010. For at least 4 months it appears DeBoy’s daughter worked for the Maryland Food Bank in violation of the organization’s employment policy.

Part V Section E of the organization’s employee handbook states in part “when hiring employees it is the policy of the Maryland Food Bank not to hire members of the immediate family of current employees or members of the board of directors.”

Maryland Food Bank CEO, Deborah Flateman, denied that they hired Walsh while her father was still a member of the board, and noted that Walsh is leaving the non-profit. She is taking a job with Comptroller Peter Franchot's executive team.

Flateman said she met and interviewed Walsh years before, but did not hire her at the time because “having Steve as a member of our board was more important,” she said. Flateman said she eventually hired Walsh because another position opened up. According to DeBoy’s 2005 legislative ethics disclosure form, Walsh worked for the Baltimore County Government communications office.

Even though she said it was more important to keep DeBoy on her board than hire his daughter, Flateman did not see any conflict of interest having Deboy on the board while he steered millions of taxpayer dollars to her organization. It “happened to be insignificant” she said, “we’re in his district.”

As the old Annapolis saying goes “if it doesn’t conflict with my interests…”

Flateman defended the use of taxpayer money to subsidize the Maryland Food Bank. Fighting hunger in the state she said, “takes a partnership between government and the non-profit sector.” The Maryland Food Bank, Flateman said, “is a unique investment for public dollars.”

Although, the MFB’s mission is a worthy cause, why does it need taxpayer subsidies? According to it’s latest tax return, the non-profit has raked in more than $120 million in contributions over the five year period between 2006-2010, and non-cash donations valued in the millions from corporations like Giant Food, Perdue, Clorox, and Sam’s Club.

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