After controversy about planned Mayweather appearance, Kansas City asks for its money back

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It was a use of taxpayer money that sparked controversy: Spending $15,000 to bring a world-famous boxer with a domestic violence background to Kansas City to speak to young adults.

On Tuesday, Kansas City sent a letter to the organizer of a group that was supposed to bring Floyd Mayweather to town on December 8, demanding repayment.

"Because the proposed event didn't occur, this letter officially requests and demands the entire $15,000 be immediately returned to the City in FULL," the letter to Ossco Bolton stated. "If a full refund isn't received by the City before December 20, 2012, the City will avail itself of remedies allowed under the law."

The issue first exploded in November on popular blog Tony's Kansas City, which reported that taxpayers would be picking up the tab for Mayweather's appearance.

Critics questioned the use of money. Mayweather spent time in jail this summer for a domestic violence conviction.

Invoices obtained by 41 Action News show the event was scheduled to take place at the Gregg Klice Community Center on December 8, where Mayweather would "speak about staying healthy and drug free."

The organizer of the event was Bolton, executive director of P.O.S.S.E., which stands for Peers Organized to Support Student Excellence.

Emails obtained by 41 Action News through an open-records request show that Bolton approached Councilman Michael Brooks about the event. Brooks then requested the money directly from City Manager Troy Schulte.

In an October 25 email, Brooks wrote, "Troy, any idea on the turnaround for the Mayweather event? Trying to secure their travel arrangements."

The next day, the city issued a $15,000 check to P.O.S.S.E., which was immediately cashed.

But the planned event attracted criticism. Bolton said he would reschedule the event. Schulte asked Internal Auditor Roy Greenway to investigate. And then this past weekend, Mayweather was not in Kansas City.

41 Action News reached Mayweather's adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, who said he is in charge of booking all the boxer's events.

"At no time has Floyd or any of his authorized representatives accepted or committed to appear at a youth event in Kansas City," Ellerbe said. "And there was certainly no exchange of funds."

Ellerbe said he believes someone in Kansas City tried to line up the event with one of Mayweather's relatives, who is not authorized to book appearances. He also said that $15,000 is much lower than a typical fee for a public appearance.

Reached by phone, Bolton acknowledged there was miscommunication surrounding the planning of the Mayweather event. He said some of the $15,000 had already been spent on promotions and preparations.

Bolton had yet to receive the repayment letter from the city, but indicated he hoped to meet with city leaders to see if the money could be used to line up a different speaker in February, possibly Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Schulte said staff members were crafting a change to policy that would address how to handle individual requests from council members.

Brooks did not respond to emails and phone calls from 41 Action News.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.
 

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