Pennsylvania's inspector general Faulkner leaving for job in Ohio

Kenya Mann Faulkner looked at a range of targets.
Kenya Mann Faulkner looked at a range of targets.
Posted: March 13, 2013

HARRISBURG - State Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner, whose investigations cast a critical eye on everything from welfare fraud to freebies for state liquor officials, is quitting the Corbett administration to become general counsel at the University of Cincinnati.

"As inspector general, Kenya's mission was to ensure integrity, accountability, and confidence in public programs, employees, and contracts," Gov. Corbett said Monday in a statement announcing the move. "She has worked diligently to exceed that goal."

Faulkner's last day in her $138,015-a-year job is March 29. The administration has not named her replacement.

"It's bittersweet," the former federal prosecutor said Monday. "I'm a little sad, and I'm happy. A part of me feels like there is more work to do here, but opportunities like this one do not come around all that often."

Faulkner, who oversaw an office of 243 employees and a $26.6 million budget, became best known during her two-year tenure for her office's stinging reviews of high-profile government agencies and spending, including the oft-maligned Liquor Control Board (LCB), and costly state grants to nonprofit organizations with ties to a Philadelphia legislator.

Her office last year completed a confidential report, a copy of which was obtained by The Inquirer, examining allegations that three top LCB officials accepted gifts and favors in 2011 from vendors and other businesses with an interest in liquor regulation. Among the three was chief executive officer Joe Conti, who has since left his job but has returned on a temporary basis for the LCB. The report triggered an investigation by the state Ethics Commission that is ongoing.

Also last year, an audit commissioned by Faulkner's office contained allegations that a nonprofit with ties to State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) had mismanaged $1.5 million in state grants since 2006. Among the findings: that at Evans' direction, the nonprofit put a Philadelphia pastor and his aide on its payroll, then used taxpayer funds to pay them for work that auditors could not verify.

Yet another audit commissioned by Faulkner's office found that the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp., a Northwest Philadelphia nonprofit agency founded by Evans, had misspent or mismanaged portions of state grants worth $12 million since 2006, violated bid rules, and made questionable real estate purchases with taxpayer money.

Evans has declined to discuss the audits. And officials from both nonprofits have said they cannot discuss the allegations because the state has not shown them its findings.

Faulkner's office has no authority to prosecute, but it can refer cases to law enforcement agencies.

Faulkner, 45, of Ambler, Montgomery County, began her legal career as a public defender in Philadelphia. She later worked as a prosecutor at the state and federal levels, handling drug, fraud, and corruption cases, as well as in the private sector conducting internal investigations for government agencies.

It was Corbett who, as attorney general in 1996, hired Faulkner to be a prosecutor in his office's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.

As inspector general, Faulkner took an often-overlooked agency and refocused the spotlight on its mission to root out government waste and corruption.

"I feel like with the governor's support, I've made some good changes at the office," Faulkner said Monday. "At the end of the day, I did what I thought was right."

Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati, issued a statement Monday saying the 42,000-student school was proud to "recruit a national leader of her caliber." Ono said Faulkner would serve as special assistant until her appointment as general counsel and vice president for legal affairs is approved by the State of Ohio, which oversees the public university.

The statement lauded Faulkner as "a change agent with a proven record of making the people and processes around her better."


Contact Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934 or acouloumbis@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @AngelasInk.

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