West Palm Beach City Commissioner Keith James says that the “firestorm” kicked up by Gossip Extra about the possible mishandling of public money by the Redemptive Life Fellowship church is unfair and uncalled for.
So James, a corporate lawyer who’s represented the church in legal matters and attends Bishop Harold Ray‘s sermons, demanded that Mayor Jeri Muoio order an investigation into how the information got to Gossip Extra.
“My understanding is that there were meetings with the city to resolve these issues,” James said. “The negotiations aren’t completed. The investigation isn’t completed. Next thing we know and there’s a firestorm.”
“When there are new media in front of the church to talk to parishioners on Sunday, that’s a firestorm,” James said. “The investigation could show that it’s a $40,000 problem and not $4 million. Let things take their course. Reputations are at stakes.”
When asked if he felt that his asking for an investigation was a conflict of interest, James said: “That’s up to the mayor to decide!”
Muoio has yet to comment on the scandal.
On Friday, Gossip Extra revealed that the feds were investigating a deal between the city and Redemptive Life in which the city was supposed to administer federal grants to the church to build low-income housing in the Coleman Park neighborhood. City officials believe that Harold and other church officials lined their pockets with some of the money. The city could be forced to reimburse up to $4.1 million to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
So far, the city has asked the church to return about $350,000.
Ray has yet to comment about the accusations.
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