June 5, 2013

Councilman defends request for $15,000 for event that never happened

Michael Brooks said he did nothing wrong in seeking the money to bring world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Kansas City. The event was canceled, and the money has never been returned.

Kansas City 5th District Councilman Michael Brooks on Wednesday defended his role last year in seeking $15,000 for a controversial youth mentoring event that never occurred.

Brooks, who is also pastor of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church, delivered his defense on radio station Gospel 1590 KPRT-AM. He said it would be his one and only comment on his funding request, which he made on behalf of Ossco Bolton’s anti-gang POSSE organization.

The police recently concluded an investigation into what happened to the money, and the Jackson County prosecutor’s office declined to file charges against Bolton, citing insufficient evidence of a crime.

Brooks said Bolton had done excellent work last summer working with youths at weekend community center events, and they wanted to continue the youth motivation during the school year. Brooks said he and Bolton discussed trying to bring world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Dec. 8 to Kansas City to help reignite boxing as a positive sport for Kansas City youths.

Brooks said that at Bolton’s urging, he asked City Manager Troy Schulte for $15,000 last October as seed money for the event and to inspire other funders to make it happen.

Brooks said he told Schulte, “I would like for us to support it, but if you can’t find the money, you can’t do it, just let me know that and I’ll tell him (Bolton) you can’t do it.”

Brooks said people frequently asked Schulte for money, and there was nothing out of the ordinary or inappropriate about his request.

Schulte has acknowledged that council members and other community leaders frequently asked him for money for non-budgeted functions. Recently the council adopted new ethics rules outlining a more transparent procedure for such funding requests to the city manager.

Brooks said Wednesday that he supports the change, although he said it did not result simply because of his $15,000 request.

“I think the process we have in place is right,” he said. “But there was nothing out of line, out of the ordinary about me going to Troy asking him to support this event.”

Schulte did find the money but later discovered that Mayweather had a history of domestic violence. Schulte said he also became concerned about the legitimacy of the event and asked for an internal investigation. Bolton has said that he got pushback about Mayweather’s background and decided he should be allowed to postpone the event and find another headliner.

The city demanded its money back, but Bolton has never returned it or rescheduled the event. The city has said it will pursue other options to recover the money.

The recently concluded police investigation found that Bolton spent thousands of dollars on travel, promotions, security and entertainment associated with the event, but that he also spent thousands of dollars on what appear to be unrelated personal expenses, such as clothes, movie expenses and fast food.

Brooks on Wednesday blamed the media for sensationalizing the incident, which he said caused potential funders to back out.

“There were tons of other investors that pulled out after the bad press,” he said. “Floyd Mayweather would have been here. I don’t apologize for trying to make it happen. I think it would have been a positive event for our youth.”

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