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June 21, 2016

Limos and Luxury Hotels on Hershey Trust Board’s Expense Tab

Directors of the Milton Hershey School for impoverished children in Pennsylvania have collectively been paid $6.9 million over the last three years and charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel costs to the organization, according to documents obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Financial and spending decisions by the $12 billion Hershey Trust, which oversees the private school and holds majority control of the giant namesake chocolate company, have repeatedly drawn regulatory and media scrutiny. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office sought to curb board members’ compensation and spending in a 2013 agreement that ended a state investigation of the organization.

In-house expense reports for the last two and a half years include $362,000 for travel, meals, and hotels, including an $18,000 tab for a weekend board meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and at least 60 limousine rides, many from airports in Philadelphia and Baltimore to the trust’s offices in central Pennsylvania.

Internal trust memos show that Mark Pacella, the chief deputy attorney general who oversees Pennsylvania nonprofits, has questioned board members’ pay and travel expenditures. Mr. Pacella declined to comment for the Inquirer article. A trust spokesman said in a statement that the compensation and expense terms outlined in the 2013 agreement “have been scrupulously followed” by board members.