- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2011

D.C. Council member Jim Graham requested a supplemental audit Monday on the nonprofit Peaceoholics, reigniting political controversy around the group as its co-founders prepare to run for office.

Co-founder Ronald Moten acknowledged the original audit’s finding that the anti-gang group had made several grant-compliance mistakes but repeated his accusation that Council member Yvette M. Alexander requested the audit because he supported Mayor Adrian M. Fenty who lost to Mayor Vincent C. Gray in 2010.

The group received $13.8 million from seven city agencies and the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. from 2005 to 2010, most during the term of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

More than $1.3 million in grants and subgrants were not competitively bid, according to the audit released in August. Acting D.C. Auditor Yolanda Branche did not conclude the Peaceoholics had stolen city funds and deferred questions regarding the group’s political activities to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.

Mr. Moten, who is now challenging Ms. Alexander for her Ward 7 seat, said Monday that a round-table discussion about Peaceoholics before the council’s Committee on Human Services and the request for an additional audit have unfairly dredged up his connection to Mr. Fenty and puts another “cloud of suspicion” over him and co-founder Jauhar Abraham, who is running for council member Marion Barry’s Ward 8 seat.

Ms. Alexander supported Mr. Gray, while Mr. Moten supported Mr. Fenty.

Mr. Graham, the committee chairman and Ward 1 Democrat, said he supports the Peaceoholics’ work but he requested the supplemental audit to put a microscope on faulty oversight of the group and the funding agencies’ responses to the first audit.

Mr. Graham said he could not understand why the agencies failed to step in to assist the nonprofit, which he said filled a “unique role” in quashing gang rivalries and supporting D.C. youth.

Ms. Alexander supported the request for more information.

“Some questions have been answered,” she said, “but still some questions remain.”

Testimony Monday highlighted the contrast between the group’s gang-intervention efforts and the compliance issues outlined in the audit.

Ms. Branche’s report praised the Peaceoholics’ work but found a lack of “internal controls” to document the group’s funds, set objectives and file vital reports.

Ms. Alexander, a committee member, said she requested the audit as part of her routine functions as a council member, with no ulterior motives.

Yet political undercurrents were unavoidable during Monday’s testimony.

Mr. Moten and Mr. Abraham frequently said their funding and contacts dried up the moment Mr. Gray was elected, leaving their once-robust operation with a skeleton staff of volunteers.

Despite their track record with troubled youth, “Neil Stanley knows it would be political suicide to work with us,” Mr. Abraham said of Mr. Gray’s pick to head the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

A long line of witnesses touted the Peaceoholics’ efforts, describing life-changing efforts to quell unrest at Ballou Senior High School in Ward 8, provide support in the wake of senseless killings and other services.

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