Politics & Government

Girl accuses Sacramento mayor of offering her hush money

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson offered to pay $1,000 a month to one of three girls who had accused him of inappropriately touching her while she was involved in his St. HOPE Hood Corps program, the girl told federal agents during their investigation of Johnson's nonprofit St. HOPE organization last year.

The girl — unnamed in a newly released report by two ranking Congressional Republicans — was interviewed by agents Jeffrey Morales and Wendy Wingers with the Corporation for National and Community Service's Office of Inspector General during an investigation of St. HOPE's misuse of $800,000 in federal AmeriCorps grants. Investigators say the girl alleged Johnson had offered to pay her $1,000 a month while she remained in the St. HOPE program, but she refused.

The details of that federal investigation, not previously released, are outlined in a report released today by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Senate Finance Committee.

Their report is critical of the Obama administration's dismissal of Gerald Walpin, the inspector general who directed the investigation into Johnson and St. HOPE.

"The facts outlined in the referral give rise to reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity," the congressmen wrote.

Mayoral spokesman Steve Maviglio vehemently denied the allegations.

"There is absolutely no merit to these politically-motivated allegations," Maviglio said. "They are categorically false. It is sad and unfortunate that the right-wing minority in Congress is playing politics with allegations that have been dismissed by professional prosecutors, the Republican U.S. Attorney, and federal officials at AmeriCorps from both political parties."

Walpin, as inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service, began investigating St. HOPE's use of federal grant money in 2008, when Johnson was running for mayor. St. HOPE, based in Oak Park, runs an array of nonprofit endeavors, including schools, a development company, and Hood Corps, the urban Peace Corps-style program at the center of Walpin's investigation.

In the course of the investigation, Walpin's office accused St. HOPE of numerous violations, including using Hood Corps members, financed by federal grant money, to run personal errands for Johnson and diverting grant money into salaries for St. HOPE school employees.

Read more at SacBee.com