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Chamber got $400K in public funds in 2009

Published: Wed, May 25, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.


Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.


By Karl Henkel



About $400,000 of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber’s $2.7 million revenue in 2009 was taxpayer funded, according to documents and information the group released Tuesday.

The documents were in response to Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras’ record request submitted May 2.

“This request is based on the fact that the Chamber receives funding from numerous governmental and publicly funded sources and appears to be carrying out what historically have been governmental or public functions in exchange for public money,” the request read.

On Tuesday, Betras, who was in Columbus, said he was not impressed with the chamber’s response.

“They only provided me with money they have gotten from the county,” he said and referenced the statute in the Ohio Revised Code he outlined in his request.

Section 149.431 reads: “Any governmental entity or agency and any nonprofit corporation or association ... that enters into a contract or other agreement with [the government] shall keep accurate and complete financial records of any moneys expended in relation to the performance of the services pursuant to such contract. ... Such contract or agreement and such financial records shall be deemed to be public records.”

Chamber President and CEO Tom Humphries reiterated that the chamber is a private organization and has no reason to provide Betras with that information.

“Give me motivation to give him information that’s private,” he said. “That’s why we have laws.”

The chamber is a 501(c)(6), which by definition aims “to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit,” according to the IRS.

Federal appropriations are normally reported on the contract fees line on a nonprofit organization’s 990 form, but there is no requirement to break down specific figures unless it is deemed a benefit to the general public, such as a museum or nursing home.

An organization’s 990 form is available to the public two years after it has been filed. Though the chamber released some information from 2007 to 2010, 2009 was the most current year The Vindicator could evaluate.

According to the chamber’s 2009 990 form, total contract fee revenues equaled $1,244,424, and the chamber acknowledged that about a third of that, or roughly $400,000, was from federal, state and local government appropriations.

Of the roughly $358,250 received from the state or local level, about $119,000 was a federal earmark from former U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson of St. Clairsville, D-6th, that arrived in 2009, according to information from Humphries earlier this month. That money was pegged for the REACH program, which funded three staff positions, though the funds are set to expire this summer.

Four of the five local entities that signed agreements with the chamber provided a combined $41,750 in 2009, led by the Trumbull County Board of Commissioners, which contributed $18,000. That money was used for economic development and retention, Humphries said.

The chamber maintains the value of its work in Trumbull County, where representatives meet with individual businesses, was actually $68,000.

The Mahoning County Board of Commissioners and the Mahoning and Trumbull County Community Improvement Corporations were the other contributors; Western Reserve Port Authority also was listed but has not contributed funds since 2007.

The chamber, much like Betras in his initial request, chose to send copies of the information to the media, and Humphries said that was done in part to ensure the accuracy of the information and not intended to control how Betras would respond.

“I am not sure anyone can control Chairman Betras,” Humphries said. “I just wanted to make sure it’s clear that we responded to his request.”


1timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Cult eats cookies from the cookie jar ! Good JOB Mr Betras ! Wonder what else they are hiding ? l would like to see this Republican Outfit go out of Bussiness period ! And it looks like that may happen !

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Tom Humphries "Hey, we only get a third of our revenue from the tax-payer, so that makes us a private organization!"

I don't think so Tom! You take one penny from the tax payer and you have to open up EVERYTHING!

Way to go David Betras - keep exposing "The Chamber of Horrors!"

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3TAXEDOFF(118 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Personally I don't care for the ambulance chasing attorney Betras but he's right about the Chamber.

Humphries and the Chamber of Commerce have a long track record of failures in spending TAX dollars

Remember the blimp factory. remember the indoor racetrack, remember the brewery, remember the cargo hub.the list goes on and on



Millions have been spent by this Chamber with nothing to show for it!!

I need only mention their famous STEAL TO SCHOLARS PROGRAM which used A $650,000 FEDERAL GRANT supposedly to improve the local schools and now Youngstown city schools,is LAST in the state.

$300,000 of that money was spent on advertising then 150,000 was spent on salaries for the chamber employees then a few dollars about $10,000 was given out in grants.

What a waste!!

That's what the chamber has been to economic development a COMPLETE WASTE!!!

Now they want to build a World Trade Center downtown.


Watch this video about the failures of the Chamber


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4AntiFascist(61 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Good story from the vindy for once. But since they've failed to cover the other big news of the day I will provide links below:


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5topsailwatch(80 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

My heart bleeds for all of the good, reasonable people of the Youngstown area. No,matter what the subject is there are always a group of naysayers that live to criticize and never lift a finger to help the communuty.

The Chamber is trying very hard to make Youngstown a beter place to live......for you my friends. Volunteer to help them.....don't stone them at every turn.

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6AntiFascist(61 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Another piece of important news the vindy didn't cover. It looks like republicans vote to end medicare isn't working out so well for them. A repub in a solid repub district lost to a Democrat and a former Democrat turned teabagger.


Old people vote and when you vote (or say you will vote) to take away their medicare they respond by voting against you.

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7Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

What a sham,..

By law this is an open and shut case. One where it's not partisan politics to recognize the irrefutable facts. Nor is it just Tom Humphries exposing himself as such a cackling cash grab criminal either,.. which he's in fact doing.

But for anyone to contend he and or they'd be roosting over a private business. Is a textbook " Lair " fake and phony orchestrator of fraud. When the record so clearly proves such an outfit receiving loads of taxpayers funds in a manner of commerce.

He's no charity or domestic entity. He's claiming to be a " private " businessman, conducting " business ". That's irrefutably siphoning taxpayers funds from every channel from city, county, state and federal allocations.

Which in " NO WAY " affords any of the financial, nor membership records. To be neither deemed, regarded nor with held as " private ". In " ANY WAY " of being obstructed from the transparent review as public records,.. by Law.

So for Tom Humphries to contend -- “Give me motivation to give him information that’s private,” he said. “That’s why we have laws.”-- is a statement / contention that proves any " Chamber " under his leadership. Is and has to be ran with a protocol of orchestrating the serial acts of larceny by deception,.. at the very least.

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8Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

@ topsailwatch

What the?,..

Trying to defend blatant theft and deception. By way of the facts you sound like tyrannical fool and position as a co-conspirator tool. Now if you'd like to allege or contend you're misunderstood. By all means next time try making some " factual " sense there,.. bottom buoy

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9Zoned(51 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Nunya! Why I never! I can't believe my eyes! Are you really citing the need for factual information? Boy is that the pot calling the kettle black! People in glass houses or glass, former, run-down hospitals shouldn't throw stones. You must be rubber and he must be glue, whatever bounces off well you know what I mean. Hey everybody! Nunya's big on facts today!!!

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