State Rep. Frank Chopp could face investigation after rerouting funds to nonprofit he co-founded
A state lawmaker is calling for an investigation into state Rep. Frank Chopp, following reports that the former Speaker of the House had redirected roughly $2 million in homelessness funds toward a Seattle nonprofit he co-founded.
The report first surfaced in the Seattle Times, detailing how the money had initially been awarded by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to Catholic Community Services and the Chief Seattle Club to fund tiny home shelters, before Chopp stepped in to earmark the funds for the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI) instead. Chopp not only co-founded LIHI, but is also close friends with the organization’s executive director, Sharon Lee.
As Times report Scott Greenstone explained to KIRO Newsradio’s Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin, this raises several red flags.
“The problem is the (King County Regional Homelessness Authority) did a competitive bidding process, and said this application was better,” he detailed. “For an elected official to go in and then reroute that money and send it to a nonprofit that didn’t get awarded the money, that looks bad anyway because he interrupted a public bidding process, but it looks even worse because he co-founded the nonprofit, he’s friends with the director, and they actually named an apartment building after him in 2005. ”
Now, Republican state Rep. Ron Muzzall is calling for a full audit and investigation “into the financial dealings of state housing funds.”
“This isn’t what state legislators are supposed to be doing, and we’ve got way too many of them that are playing around in this arena, and I don’t understand how they justify it,” Muzzall said.
“Is this a punishable offense? I don’t know. Is it inappropriate? It sure is,” he added.
Chopp has since pointed out that he is also friends with leaders at the two nonprofits the KCRHA first awarded the money to, while claiming that he was well within his authority to “redistribute” the funds. Lee has similarly denied any impropriety in Chopp moving the funds over to LIHI.