- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The head of a nonprofit accused of misspending public money on travel and other personal expenses has broken his silence.

Bill Davis was the longtime CEO of Community Action Minneapolis until earlier this year, when the state severed its contracts and suspended Davis after an audit revealed the organization misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars. The state says the nonprofit owes more than $600,000 that was spent on golf, massages, gifts, a car loan and a cruise.

Davis told MPR News (https://bit.ly/1AmLXqK ) he didn’t do anything wrong as the longtime head of Community Action, which provided heating assistance to low-income Minnesota residents. He blamed sloppy accounting for the allegations of misspending.

“I believe that I will be vindicated,” said Davis, who also indicated he hopes to restart the nonprofit.

It’s the first time Davis has spoken publicly since a Department of Human Services audit showed state grants were directed to lavish personal expenses. The audit, first reported by the Star Tribune, prompted immediate changes: Community Action Minneapolis was shut down, Davis was suspended and 41 employees lost their jobs.

Davis said there was “a lot of embellishment” in the audit. He said he mistakenly charged a cruise to his company credit card rather than his personal account.

Davis blamed Community Action’s chief financial officer, Anthony Spears, for that mistake and a series of other accounting errors that led auditors to suspect misspending. Spears could not be reached for comment.

All told, Davis said he thinks his agency owes the state just $20,000 - not $600,000.

DHS pushed back against Davis’ explanation.

“We’ve heard this explanation before and we stand by our audit. We don’t believe we misinterpreted anything,” DHS said in a statement.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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