JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Kids' Hope Alliance CEO Joseph Peppers has been placed on administrative leave. The City of Jacksonville spokesperson said Peppers is the subject of an "ongoing investigation."
KHA is a city agency that carries out city-supported youth programs such as after school programs and early learning.
A City of Jacksonville spokesperson released the following statement on Peppers' administrative leave:
On Wednesday, Action News Jax obtained a September 2018 memo written by 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.
Peppers sent Action News Jax the following statement on Thursday:
The City's Office of Inspector General confirmed the investigation, but would not confirm when it began, saying in a statement:
Thursday's removal comes one day after Action News Jax reported on a 2018 memo written by Peppers. He told two staffers 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.
The Mayor's office denied the claims.
In April, Action News Jax reported that Peppers was taking time off for at least a month.
According to the agency and the city, Peppers took time off to address "longstanding health issues."
In July, Kids Hope Alliance Chief Operations Officer Mary Tobin resigned. She served as CEO while Peppers took time off.
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