When Pittsburgh leaders submitted their Amazon HQ2 bid, $6.7 billion in tax breaks were offered on behalf of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and Pittsburgh Public School District. This was one of the biggest incentive offers ever to attract a private business.
Amazon didn’t pick Pittsburgh, but leaders said the process was a success because it brought so many groups together, unified on one goal. The title of the bid was “Future. Forged. For All.”
Now, it appears the offer might not have had as much unified support as initially claimed. Pittsburgh Public School board member Kevin Carter claimed in a Facebook post that his signature on a letter to Amazon in support of Pittsburgh’s bid was forged.
“I would like the general public to know that I [have] never seen, nor did I sign any letters to Amazon on behalf of the district,” wrote Carter on Facebook. “Any letters or materials included in the Amazon proposal with my signature was fraudulently forged and affixed to said documents without my knowledge or expressed written permission.”
Carter represents District 8, which includes the North Side, Hill District, Downtown and Beltzhoover. Carter added that he will be working with his attorney to investigate the matter.
He also shared on Facebook a picture of the alleged forged signature on the Amazon letter and a picture of his signature from his 2015 election petition. The Amazon letter that Carter claims has a forgery also includes a signature of PPS Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto spokesperson Keyva Clark said in a statement that the city received the letter containing signatures from Hamlet and Carter, and that the letter was “delivered after a meeting where the [school district's] solicitor was fully briefed on the process and bid proposal.”
PPS spokesperson Ebony Pugh said in a statement that the school district is immediately launching an investigation into the allegations the letter was forged. She said the letter didn’t commit the school district into any agreement, the school district was not provided with a copy of the Amazon bid, and the school district was not committed legally to offer any incentives as outlined in the bid.
Pugh noted that the district is taking this allegation very seriously.
“The fact that Amazon has not chosen Pittsburgh for 'HQ2' and the fact that this letter did not legally bind the district into any tax incentive programs is entirely irrelevant,” said Pugh. “It's critical that we get to the bottom of this immediately.”
But, PPS board president Regina Holley told WESA that the issue was “moot.” She said since Amazon didn’t chose Pittsburgh, any work trying to discover if Carter’s signature was forged was “energy wasted.”