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City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson keeps changing explanations for what he did with money raised for Peace Not Guns Inc., a group the councilman wrongly claimed had tax-exempt status.

First, Johnson’s chief of staff, Chris Sample, told AxisPhilly that the organization hadn’t ever raised any money. “There are no financials for it at all. We don’t raise any money for it. It’s just a concept, really, just (Johnson’s) way of talking about the issue,” Sample said.

That statement turned out to not be true. In fact, in addition to the fundraising that AxisPhilly has already reported, the group has raised money

Barrett Educational Center on S. 24th St.

Barrett Educational Center on S. 24th St.

from several of the councilman’s political allies. A review of just a few campaign finance reports shows that in June of 2009, state Rep. Dwight Evans’s campaign gave Peace Not Guns $500. Sen. Anthony Williams’ senate campaign gave another $500 that same month, and again $250 in September of 2008.

More recently, Johnson told CBS3 that any money raised for Peace Not Guns had actually been funneled through other non-profits that were legally registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c ) 3 group. One of the groups Johnson mentioned was the Barrett Educational Center.

While this statement may be true, it still raises more questions about what Johnson did with the money collected. The records of Barrett are not available because it is defunct.

The Barrett Education Center, a non-profit directed by Tiphanie White, Johnson’s special events coordinator, automatically lost its status as a tax-exempt organization in 2012 due to failure to file tax reports for three years in a row. This suggests that it had not reported any financial activity with the IRS since 2009, the year that Johnson began his political career as a member of the state House of Representatives.

Additionally, the building on the 1300-block of South 24th Street, where Barrett Educational Center did business, is a derelict shell that appears as though it hasn’t been used for quite some time.

Kenyatta’s office said they were working to provide records on the money.

Yesterday, Steve Cobb, Johnson’s director of legislation told AxisPhilly in a statement via email that  “We are seeking the bank records to help document what transpired with Peace Not Guns. Unfortunately, despite numerous requests to expedite the release of these records, the bank in question continues to insist that the records are not yet available.  We are continuing to push hard for this information (our most recent request was made again this morning) because we believe it will address these issues once and for all, and we will share it with you and others at the first opportunity.  Until that time, we cannot provide the information you (and we) are seeking.”

Cobb did not answer questions about the Barrett Educational Center’s tax status, or tax reports it did not file during the years that Peace Not Guns Inc. may have been using it as a fiscal sponsor.

Johnson has been promoting his initiative to end gun violence, Peace Not Guns, Inc., since he began his political career as a member of the state House of Representatives in 2009. Its website, which has been taken down since AxisPhilly’s first report, featured photos of Johnson as well as various events the organization has sponsored, and described Peace Not Guns as a non-profit dedicated to education, mentoring and community initiatives.

In an earlier story, AxisPhilly listed several fundraising events held for Peace Not Guns. Since then, AxisPhilly has found more incidents of fundraising. In addition to the political contributions, there was a fundraiser held by the Omicron Delta Lambda Chapter of the Alphia Phi Alpha fraternity in April of 2008.