Grant money went to the employer of a councilmember’s spouse. Memphis to audit program

Frank L. Monteverde
1918 – 1919
Harry H. Litty
1917 – 1918
Thomas C. Ashcroft
1916 – 1917
George C. Love
1915 – 1916
E. H. Crump
1910 – 1915
James H. Malone
1906 – 1910
Joseph John "JJ" Williams
1898 – 1906

Frank L. Monteverde 1918 – 1919 Harry H. Litty 1917 – 1918 Thomas C. Ashcroft 1916 – 1917 George C. Love 1915 – 1916 E. H. Crump 1910 – 1915 James H. Malone 1906 – 1910 Joseph John “JJ” Williams 1898 – 1906

The Memphis City Council plans to hire an independent auditor to look at its own grant program and investigate how the funds were spent over the past three fiscal years.

The move could bring transparency to how the City Council spends between $2 and $2.5 million every year. This year, it is more than $3 million. Each councilmember typically directs about 1/13th of the money to local nonprofits through a program that is often seen as political patronage.

The decision to hire an auditor comes after one member of the City Council, Michalyn Easter-Thomas, did not disclose a personal interest when the City Council voted on allocating thousands in grant dollars to the nonprofit where her husband ran fundraising — Communities in Schools of Memphis.

She also did not disclose the connection before the City Council voted to allocate $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to Communities in Schools last fall.

Easter-Thomas acknowledged questions from The Commercial Appeal but did not return a request for comment Monday.

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Darren Thomas II, Easter-Thomas’ husband, worked as director of development for Communities in Schools of Memphis, according to its website. He left about a month ago, according to a post on his LinkedIn page.

He is listed as the applicant for the organization in city documents that detail grant funding received by the city.

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