JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax obtained a September 2018 memo written by Kids Hope Alliance CEO Joe Peppers, and sent to two KHA staffers, indicating he was being pressured by the mayor's office to ensure certain organizations received anti-violence grant funding.
" … I am stating for public record that I do not agree with the approach dictated to me by the Mayor's Office regarding the facilitation of the [requests for proposal] for the $50k grants and the $300k grants," he said in the opening line of the memo.
Peppers believed then Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, and then Chief of Staff Brian Hughes, tried to influence him to give preferential treatment to certain organizations applying for the grants.
"To reiterate, both Brian and Sam stated that there would be designated applicants that would get preferential treatment during the application process," he said.
The ‘Stop the Violence' mini-grants, and how the RFPs should be managed, were the topics at hand in memo.
The grants totaled at least $300,000 and were doled out to dozens of local organizations in the amount of $10,000 each after a competitive application process.
The grants came after a string of violence in Jacksonville, including the deadly shooting at a Raines High School football game.
Peppers claimed in the 2018 memo that Mousa and Hughes expressed dissatisfaction about his desire to hire a contract manager to oversee the grants.
"Sam stated that we didn't need that," said Peppers. "This is family talking; this political!" I said I wanted to make sure that we measured outcomes but that what I hear them saying is that these grants need to be simplified. Sam stated that he wanted me personally involved in grading the grants."
New statement from Peppers:
Today, the City of Jacksonville released the following statement from Peppers, indicating that the matter had been resolved.
Chief administrator of the City of Jacksonville, Brian Hughes' statement:
Former CAO, Sam Mousa's statement:
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