President George W. Bush touts his "faith-based" initiative as a better path to providing social services. In his fanciful worldview, religiously based social services are always better and more efficient than their public and private secular alternatives. News of misused funds at one of South Florida's largest "faith-based" charities should give him pause. The New York Times reports that the $182,000-a-year director at Camillus House, a large Florida charity that helps the homeless and disadvantaged, has been fired for improperly using organization resources and personnel for personal benefit. According to investigations by the Miami Herald, executive director Dale Simpson failed to reimburse Camillus House for money used to repair his two homes in Miami. Also, the newspaper said that it found no record that he had reimbursed the charity for hundreds of hours that its workers spent at his home on the charity's time.
When allegations first arose, Brother Savio Charron, CEO at Camillus, issued a memo demanding that employees stop making "defamatory" accusations about Simpson, including allegations about his misuse of resources. Camillus House is run by members of a Toronto-based Roman Catholic order of missionaries called Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd. About half of Camillus' $10.1 million in annual revenue comes from federal, state and local grants. Mr. Simpson received about $115,000 as severance pay. Board Chairman Bob Dickenson, who helped negotiate Simpson's departure acknowleged that board members had "never even seen his contract." Although a board investigation has been promised, it had not begun at the time of the Miami Herald report. Since that time, federal and state investigators have opened criminal inquiries.