Embattled LA bishop declines to honor his pledge to make public his finances, saying the information would help legal opponents
The Bishop of Los Angeles has reneged on his promise to the 2015 Diocesan Convention to make public the finances of the diocese’s corporation sole. In a statement released on 28 Feb 2016, the Save the St James the Great Coalition reported the diocese’s chief operating officer had responded to the group’s request for the audited records of the bishop’s finances by saying that disclosure would at this time would harm the bishop in his on-going litigation with the parish and donors of the land. The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, who is facing ecclesiastical charges of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy that include lying to members of the diocese, had faced a public censure at his diocesan convention over his handling of church property, but was able to postpone a showdown after he promised to make public his activities
The parish reported:
We are disappointed to share the news with you that Bishop J. Jon Bruno has decided not to honor the promise he made at diocesan convention in December to make the audit of Corporation Sole available to anyone who asked. As those who were at convention will remember, there was a resolution up for vote that would have required a third-party, independent audit of Corporation Sole.
However, before the vote could be taken, the Bishop voluntarily offered the information to anyone who requested it. This avoided a potentially embarrassing vote on the resolution that would have mandated an outside audit.
When our congregation followed up with the Bishop’s office in mid-January requesting a copy of the audit, David Tumilty, COO of the Diocese, responded, “Given the ongoing lawsuit which the SAVE group has brought against the Bishop as Corporation Sole, the Bishop has been advised by his attorney to not provide the audit of Corporation Sole as discussed at Convention at this time. When it is appropriate to do so the information will be provided as noted in the discussion held at Convention.”
Since litigation was filed in June 2015, more than five months before the December diocesan convention, and since it took two months after the Convention for this excuse to emerge, one might wonder whether this is the real reason the Bishop is not willing to provide the promised audit reports.
If you believe that this matter is of concern not just to St. James the Great, but to the whole Diocese, indeed the whole Episcopal Church, we urge you to write to the Bishop, and ask him to publish the Corp Sole audit reports so we may begin an era of transparency and accountability:firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE ON MATTERS OF CORP SOLE
Additionally, we do wonder with great concern, what will happen to the parishioners of St. Stephens, Whittier, and the property now that they are closing their doors after 60 years of service to their community. We hope there will be communication and transparency from the diocese in the months ahead.
We also believe the Bishop should share what he is doing with commercial real estate in Anaheim with the entire diocese. We know from public records Corp Sole formed a LLC in Delaware called Katella Howell LLC and used this LLC in August 2015 to purchase a one-half interest in three commercial properties in Anaheim for $6.3 million. It appears that Corp Sole, through Katella Howell LLC, now owns 100% of this Anaheim commercial property, subject to a $5.3 million mortgage loan. What are the Bishop’s plans for the Anaheim property? Why is he selling sacred property at the same time that he is buying commercial property?