Loose change

The plot has thickened in the Cameron Whitten - Greg McKelvey "Brown Hope" saga. It's starting to look like a potential bona fide scandal. Now the Oregon Justice Department says it is going to investigate whatever nefarious things may have happened. That department is supposed to be policing nonprofits around the state, but usually they're napping. For them to jump in is an ominous sign.

Meanwhile, Nigel at the Weed has dug up some numbers on how much government and foundation grant dough has gone through the Brown Hope nonprofit over the last few years. Mama mia, it's nearly $3 million! His chart is here.

The cash flow includes $1,475,000 from the Oregon Health Authority for "Covid support" and "Covid equity." What in heaven's name did Whitten and McKelvey do about Covid with $1,475,000? There are roughly 39,000 Black people in Portland. It works out to $37 or $38 per person.

Not that there are a lot of insiders who might know what it went for. The most recent form the organization filed with the IRS, as published by the Guidestar charity watchdog site, lists only four people under "Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees": McKelvey, President; Whitten, CEO; Dashia Fontleroy, Secretary; and Mustafah Finney, Treasurer. Only Whitten is shown as drawing a salary, of less than $37,000. This was in 2020.

How do you administer $3 million in grants with such a skeleton crew? It's one of many questions that are likely to be asked as the mysterious troubles are revealed. Reportedly there was a board meeting scheduled for yesterday – they didn't need too big a room, I gather – and after that we were supposed to hear more about what the heck has happened. Those of us who have grown weary and suspicious of the nonprofit industrial complex, which sucks up so much tax money in this town, are all ears.

In its most recent filings, Brown Hope says its bookkeeper is a downtown outfit named after Susan Matlack Jones – a firm that bills itself as specializing in bookkeeping for nonprofits. A bookkeeper for nonprofits, in Portland? Man, they probably have some tales to tell. 

Meanwhile, Brown Hope's filings with the IRS and the state Justice Department have been prepared most recently by a downtown accounting firm named McDonald Jacobs. All of these forms have been filed late, and they cover only through the end of 2020. And so at the moment, there's almost two years gone with nothing to look at on the public record.

Stand by for some gory details. And no doubt, some classic Portland.


  1. I should start a non-profit here in town, and get in on some of the action. I kind of always wanted to drive a Lexus. I drive a Hyundai now, and sure it might be a Genesis, but it’s not the status symbol that a Lexus is.

    I will name my proposed non-profit something ambiguous like “We Are One Portland.” And the stated goal would be to:

    “We help with empowering the disenfranchised to succeed, despite the inequities and inequalities inherent in our current white-dominated power structures and systems.

    We value the individual, and understand the hurt and damage felt by the BIPOC community due to years of neglect and racist practices. These same principles also apply to our many unhoused LGTBQ community members. It is time to heal, and given the right amount of donations, we feel that we are in the perfect position to facilitate the start of the healing process.

    We Are One Portland, and together we are better. We won’t stop until we get there together, because together is better. A Better Together Today.”

  2. The bureaucrats, that should be paying attention, won’t do anything until their own paycheck is threatened.

  3. I just assume most of these types of moneys are wasted anyway, so whatever Whitten did or didn't do -- hard to believe he'd be satisfied drawing a a salary of $35k -- isn't really all that interesting, it's how the hell does the state doll out all that COVID money with presumably absolutely nothing to show for it?


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