A San Diego board that allocates public funds for early-education programs has awarded or committed $1.4 million in recent years to a children’s charity headed by one of its members, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Sandra McBrayer, CEO of the Children’s Initiative, has been a member since 2009 of First 5 San Diego, a body established to dispense tobacco-tax dollars for early-childhood learning.
The most recent commission grant to the charity, for about $233,000, was approved last month. The Children’s Initiative, which has annual revenue of $1.5 million, said Ms. McBrayer takes no part in compiling its grant requests to First 5 San Diego or reviewing them as a commission member, and she sits out votes on the applications.
First 5 officials said the body has dispensed some $33.6 million since fiscal 2013 and that proposals are vetted by an independent committee. The San Diego County counsel’s office determined that the Children’s Initiative grants — as well as awards to the county Health and Human Services Agency, an official of which also serves on First 5’s board — do not transgress state conflict-of-interest laws.