Fete Fund-raiser Asked For Refund, Official Says

Posted: May 29, 1987

The Fund for Philadelphia Inc. asked California fund-raising specialist Richard Rovsek on May 8 to return $160,000 that it paid him even though he raised nothing for the Constitution celebration here, a Pennsylvania deputy attorney general said yesterday.

The statement by Molly McCurdy, chief deputy attorney general for charitable trusts and organizations, appears to contradict the fund-raising chief for the Constitution celebration, who said May 13 that Rovsek had been allowed to keep the $160,000 as expenses for his unsuccessful fund-raising.

That statement was made by Charles F. Schalch, a Bell of Pennsylvania executive who assumed fund-raising responsibilities in March for We the People 200 Inc., the celebration agency.

Rovsek, head of American Marketing & Communications Inc. of Santa Barbara, was national fund-raiser for the celebration from last June 15 until his contract was terminated last month.

Yesterday, Rovsek said he would not return the money, but would seek more that is due him from the Philadelphia celebration.

"We have turned (the matter) over to our attorney because there is substantially more money due in unpaid bills" than the $160,000, Rovsek said.

The state Attorney General's Office began to investigate the $160,000 payment to Rovsek on May 21 because state law allows such fund-raisers to earn no more than 15 percent of what they raise, McCurdy said.

When she began the investigation last week, McCurdy said her purpose was to take "a very close look at (whether) certain services have not been rendered in return for $160,000 that have been paid out of charitable funds or municipal funds."

Yesterday, McCurdy said she found that Fund for Philadelphia Inc., the city-related agency with which Rovsek had the contract, sent a letter May 8 to Rovsek terminating the contract and asking that he return within 75 days all of the $160,000.

"The termination letter states an obligation to repay all unearned

funds," McCurdy said.

"Frankly," McCurdy said, "I am satisfied they are making all efforts to get reimbursement for all funds."

In interviews earlier this month, Schalch said Rovsek had raised no money that would have allowed him to keep the $160,000 as commissions. He said the celebration had severed its relationship with Rovsek because "it was a bad marriage."

But Schalch said he believed celebration officials had decided to let Rovsek keep the $160,000 because Rovsek was claiming that much as expenses.

On Wednesday and again yesterday, Schalch declined to be interviewed and referred calls to Willard G. Rouse 3d, chairman of We the People 200 Inc.

"I've got no intention of answering any questions as it relates to Mr. Rovsek at this time," Rouse said Wednesday evening.

In a telephone interview from Santa Barbara yesterday, Rovsek said, "Bill Rouse and his associates have said to apply it (the $160,000) against the expenses" incurred in working for the Constitution celebration.

When reminded that Pennsylvania law allows only 15 percent of money raised, Rovsek agreed but added, "They have a lot of expenses in other areas."

Rovsek said that although he had no contract for work other than his fund- raising, he did We the People 200 work "from logo design and newsletter design to development of the program, and a significant amount of time and money was spent on those."

Rovsek signed a fund-raising contract Oct. 24 with Dianne L. Semingson, who three days earlier had been named by Mayor Goode as president and chief executive officer of We the People 200. Rouse replaced her as head of the celebration effort March 9.

When she signed the contract in October, Semingson was acting as co- chairman of the Fund for Philadelphia, a nonprofit agency of the city administration that, among other things, helps promote tourism and was authorized to receive funds for We the People 200.

The Rovsek contract, on file in Harrisburg, states that Fund for Philadelphia "shall pay to solicitor a fee equal to fifteen percent (15%) of all funds raised by solicitor and actually received by the Fund. . . .

"In no event shall the fee for such services exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the amount of funds raised," the contract states, adding that expenses must be included in that 15 percent.

Both Rovsek and Semingson said that they thought Rovsek deserved payment for more than his fund-raising work, though he had no contract for anything but fund-raising.

Semingson recalled that Rovsek "was able to help us in terms of overall marketing, not just fund-raising. Many of the creative aspects of the programming we are now beginning to see, Mr. Rovsek had a hand in."

Rovsek said the $160,000 payment was "for substantially more" than his fund-raising efforts.

"They wouldn't have a (Sept. 17) TV special or Radio City Music Hall Productions" planning the Sept. 17 parade, Rovsek said, without his involvement.

Rovsek agreed that no contract for his services outside fund-raising was signed but said "the commitment was made. Because of disorganization, they were unable to dot every i."

Semingson recalled that there had been "discussion by my staff that a second contract was something that should be examined because he (Rovsek) was doing much more than fund-raising."

She added, "One of my staff people had said there was a second contract in

draft form, but it never came to me for signature."

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