For 30 years the Executive’s Ball has been a staple for raising money for the arts in Montgomery County, now it is part of a political controversy.
County Council member George Leventhal (D-At large) is asking the Executive’s Ball for four years of records from the charity ball.
While the Executive’s Ball has been an annual event for the past 34 years, this year County Executive Ike Leggett is asking the County Council to match the $200,000 proceeds the ball has raised for the arts in his proposed budget to help fund the arts in Montgomery County.
Leventhal said he and his staff asked for four years of revenue and expenditure statements but they have yet to receive a response from the charity ball.
“It’s a natural question to ask,” Leventhal said. “We don’t give grants to any organization that doesn’t open up their books.”
Chaired by Leggett’s wife Catherine Leggett, the Executive’s Ball has brought business leaders, philanthropists and politicians together to raise money for the arts in the County since 1986.
The Executive’s Ball is a private non-profit that receives no government funding and is all volunteer run. Catherine Leggett could not be reached for comment on this story. Ike Leggett declined to comment, saying he is not involved with the organization.
Leventhal, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, said it is routine for non-profits to disclose information to the council when they are asking for taxpayer dollars.
“It’s really a very simple question,” said Leventhal about his request for a balance sheet. “And I honestly don’t understand why we can’t get an answer to a simple question.”
Leventhal said the Executive’s Ball has not disclosed any information on how much overhead the organization has nor how it selects where the money is donated.
Where the proceeds for the Executive’s Ball go is determined by the Arts and Humanities Council, according to Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who also serves on the Health and Human Services Committee with Leventhal.
Berliner said that he is not worried about the Executive’s Ball’s finances.
“I am not concerned about the arts ball,” Berliner said. “I don’t believe as Council member Leventhal said that they’re some secret organization. I believe that they are doing well by our community.”
Berliner said he supports the ball because it is a private organization that raises money for the arts in the county.
Council member Craig Rice (D-2), who also serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, could not be reached for comment.
When Montgomery County last matched the event’s proceeds in 2014, the County donated $155,200 to 86 different arts and cultural groups.
They included $3,900 to the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, Inc., $3,200 to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, $5,325 to the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture and $3,825 to National Philharmonic.
The Health and Human Services Committee is expected to return to this issue in early May.
“I honest to God do not understand what’s going on,” Leventhal said.