Public Housing Authority Used Taxpayer Money To Lobby For More Taxpayer Money

Tristyn Bloom Contributor
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Former Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director Carl R. Greene has been fined $75,000 for using taxpayer funds to illegally lobby Washington during his tenure, reports

According to the court’s decision, Greene failed to disclose the $24,000 the PHA paid lobbying firm American Continental Group in 2007 and 2008, in direct violation of federal law. The law exists to prevent agencies receiving taxpayer funds from using those funds to receive yet more, but in both years Greene signed documents vowing there had been no lobbying.

Greene, who was executive director from 1998 until his firing in 2010, is no stranger to controversy. He’s been sued by several former employees, including one lawyer who said she was fired for refusing to engage in “unethical practices,” and has been accused of sexually harassing female employees.

“You’re stupid. You’re lazy. I can’t believe your parents wasted college education on you,” Greene yelled at one young aide, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I can’t believe you’re so incompetent.”

“I’ve never worked somewhere where I’ve seen so many professionals crying,” said one former PHA executive. The PHA, which is the fourth largest housing authority in the country and “the biggest landlord in Pennsylvania,” according to its website, has paid some $900,000 in settlements for sexual harassment claims filed against Greene.

The PHA’s mission is to “develop, acquire, lease and operate affordable housing for city residents with limited incomes,” in its own words. “Our funding comes primarily from the federal government. We also work in partnership with the city and state governments as well as private investors. Although we are a public agency, we operate in many ways like a private property management company. We employ the best practices of the  private real estate industry.”

Greene apparently blamed the failure to disclose the lobbying payments on “confusion on behalf of [his] staff,” an excuse the judge, Alexander Fernandez, found unconvincing.

Prior to his tenure with the PHA, Greene held similar positions in Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. In 2006, Greene spent nearly $20,000 on an elaborate “diversity awareness” gala complete with scantily clad belly and salsa dancers, which an agency newsletter later bragged “brought diversity awareness to a new level at PHA.”

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Tristyn Bloom