City Administrator Carmen Chu, City Attorney David Chiu, and Controller Ben Rosenfield respond to allegations of misconduct associated with the City's Community Challenge Grant Program

City leaders take immediate action to ensure transparency and the integrity of the grantmaking process following charges of misconduct by a City program director.
September 01, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—City Administrator Carmen Chu, City Attorney David Chiu, and Controller Ben Rosenfield today announced immediate actions in response to charges filed this week against two individuals involved in the City’s Community Challenge Grant Program (CCG). The charges, filed by the District Attorney’s Office, describe alleged actions by Lanita Henriquez, program director of CCG, and Dwayne Jones, founder and president of RDJ Enterprises. The allegations include bribery, misappropriation of public funds, and financial conflicts of interest occurring between 2016 and 2020.  

The City Administrator, City Attorney, and Controller announced three actions today:   

  • The City Administrator immediately placed the CCG program director on paid administrative leave during the ongoing law enforcement process. 
  • The City Administrator and City Attorney initiated a process of suspension and debarment against Dwayne Jones, RDJ Enterprises, and any identified affiliates to ensure that the City does not expend public funds on grants or contracts with RDJ Enterprises and affiliates. 
  • The City Administrator requested that the Controller and the City Attorney conduct a joint Public Integrity Review of CCG’s grantmaking to identify any necessary improvements to the program’s policies and procedures. 

“When individuals violate the public trust, it hurts our City and undermines the important work and commitment of our entire workforce who show up day after day to serve the public,” said Mayor London Breed. “I want to thank our City Administrator, City Attorney and Controller for their quick response in this case, and for their commitment to transparency and accountability. We have already implemented a number of good government reforms to address the problems of the past, and we remain committed to having strong policies and protocols that allow us to deliver critical services with integrity and efficiency.”  

“This is yet another disheartening example of corruption once again eroding the public’s trust, and requires the elected leadership to change the tone from the top,” said Aaron Peskin, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  “I will be working with our City Controller, City Attorney, City Administrator and colleagues to reign in the fiscal sponsor organization abuses that aid and abet corruption.” 

“There is no tolerance for the misuse of public funds for personal gain anywhere in our government,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “Even while the investigation is ongoing, we must act swiftly to review internal processes and ensure accountability. We thank the City Attorney and the Controller for their independent review and recommendations.” 

“Any self-dealing or attempts to compromise our grantmaking or contracting processes will not be tolerated,” said City Attorney Chiu. “We are working together with the City Administrator and Controller to ensure our grantmaking process is transparent and fair, that the individuals charged can no longer profit from our City, and that sufficient protections are in place to help prevent individuals from misappropriating public monies in the future.”  

“Well-intentioned programs only work when robust controls and vetting processes are in place and properly monitored,” said Controller Ben Rosenfield. “Decisions about taxpayer dollars must be free from the risk of inappropriate steering. Our joint efforts have created positive policy changes and stronger controls around contracting and grantmaking in recent years, and our work continues.” 

About Suspension and Debarment 

Based on the charges filed by the District Attorney, the City Administrator and City Attorney will first file suspension and then debarment orders against Dwayne Jones, RDJ Enterprises, and any identified affiliates. These actions will ensure that RDJ Enterprises and its affiliates cannot bid on future contracts or grants, or receive City funds from existing contracts or grants.  

The suspension orders, expected to be filed next week, will then take effect immediately. Following the suspension order, the City intends to seek debarment, which is an administrative enforcement procedure that authorizes the City to ban contractors from applying for or receiving City contracts or grants for up to five years.  

About Public Integrity Review 

The City Attorney and Controller will immediately commence, at the request of the City Administrator, an independent review of the Community Challenge Grant Program and its grantmaking procedures. Based on the findings of the review, the City Attorney and the Controller will issue a joint Public Integrity Report on CCG processes and grant oversight. 

The Public Integrity Review will allow the Controller and City Attorney to identify whether additional improvements to CCG’s granting processes are required and to assess the integrity of the program’s current practices. 

Together, the City Attorney and the Controller have issued ten previous Public Integrity Reports on a range of topics. Many of these recommendations have been implemented to improve city systems, policies, procedures, internal controls, and transparency. One such recommendation led to legislation, passed by the Board of Supervisors and signed by Mayor Breed in 2021, that significantly reformed the City’s grantmaking process. The legislation, codified in Administrative Code Chapter 21G, regulates the process for awarding grants to ensure it is fair and transparent. 

About the Community Challenge Grant Program (CCG) 

The Community Challenge Grant Program, a division of the City Administrator’s Office, was established by voters in 1990 to support physical improvements and greening of public spaces. The program provides funding and technical assistance to community groups, businesses, community benefit associations, schools, and nonprofits to implement neighborhood beautification projects and promote welcoming community spaces.  

The City Administrator’s Office remains committed to supporting the CCG program and its grantees during this time.