A former chief executive of Hollywood-based anti-poverty nonprofit organization Youth Policy Institute (YPI) Dixon Slingerland was accused of using the organization’s funds for personal use as well as national political donations, the nonprofit claimed in court documents.
These revelations come after two weeks of unrest following YPI abruptly ending its services. According to Los Angeles Times, YPI eliminated close to a thousand jobs and left low-income families in neighborhoods such as Pacoima and Pico-Union in the dark. YPI said in its filing that it sent a letter to Slingerland demanding upward of $1.7 million be repaid to the organization.
Slingerland, a renowned former Obama fundraiser for the Democratic Party with robust ties to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, was fired in September for misusing the nonprofit’s money on a wide spectrum of unauthorized and personal expenses.
A federal court in California stated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing that YPI alleged Slingerland of wrongfully using the organization’s funds on personal spending as well as securing political favors—including paying for his children’s private tutoring, adding money to his wife’s pension, in addition to “lavish” dining, travel, and entertainment.
Slingerland, who sat as chief at YPI for 23 years, had a salary of around $400,000 by the time he was let go. During his occupancy, Slingerland reportedly created ties with politicians at local, state, and federal levels while raising money for the Obama campaign and working with them to ensure there was taxpayer funding for his organization, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The New York Times reported that Slingerland had raised money for the Obama Victory Fund, a sister project of the former president’s 2012 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Internal campaign documents reported in 2012 showed that Slingerland was able to raise more than $743,000 for former President Barack Obama over a period of two presidential election cycles.
Slingerland decried allegations made on his bankruptcy filing “incorrect and extremely misleading” but admitted that “a handful of expenditures were mistakenly made” on his YPI credit card, claiming he is already making efforts to reimburse the organization.
“I have made several attempts to meet with YPI leadership to resolve any and all issues, including the fact that YPI still owes me money,” Slingerland explained in an email. “YPI has refused to engage in discussions or provide me with the necessary detail needed to clear up these matters.”
But auditors claimed otherwise on their reports, where Slingerland’s credit card allegedly incurred numerous charges that “lacked a clear business purpose” and his expense reports were not documented.
Bri-Anne Sullivan, who had worked for YPI for nearly two years as a manager for the nonprofit’s tutoring programs, was proud of the work she had done for the group but was disheartened and appalled when she discovered the revelations that the group’s money went toward an executive’s personal use.
“It’s astounding,” Sullivan said. “I don’t even have the words to tell you how that really hurts.”
Sullivan was one among many who were only notified within 24 hours before the group closed its doors. According to Sullivan, employees have not been paid for their last week of work nor their holiday leaves.