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Mark Robinson’s Wife Suddenly Shuts Down Nonprofit Amid Attacks From Conservatives, Questions Over Pandemic Loans

Source: The Assembly

The wife of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is facing scrutiny after suddenly announcing the closing of her controversial nonprofit, likely at the end of April, The Assembly reported.

The Assembly obtained an email that Hill sent to clients of Balanced Nutrition, Inc. – which assists day cares in securing federal funding to feed low-income children – that said “with a heavy heart” she had decided to exit the Child and Adult Food Care Program, the nonprofits sole revenue source.

Hill’s email said that Robinson’s political career had made it impossible to continue running the nonprofit after nine years.

“Some of you may or may not be aware that my husband is the Lt. Governor of North Carolina and is currently running for Governor of North Carolina,” Hill wrote. “With that being said, my life has gotten extremely busy over the last few years and those obligations no longer allow me the time to be a sponsoring organization.”

While the goal of helping child care centers secure funding to feed low-income children is a noble goal, Balanced Nutrition has become a possible political liability for Robinson over the past year.

The Assembly reported in January that some conservatives have criticized the nonprofit for “recruiting customers for the social welfare state,” as Brant Clifton, editor of the conservative website The Daily Haymaker, wrote last May. Such a business is at odds with Robinson’s denunciations of “government charity,” critics say.

“How do you go around claiming to be Mr. Conservative or the King of Conservatism, when your family business is solely based on keeping the trains running on the welfare state?” Clifton told The Assembly earlier this year. 

There are also questions surrounding two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans Hill took out in 2020 and 2021 for a total of $57,000. The government eventually forgave the loans, which were meant to bail out businesses that were struggling during the pandemic – but records show that Hill gave herself a $28,000 raise in 2020, which was almost the exact amount of her first PPP loan. From 2019 to 2021, Balanced Nutrition’s revenue climbed from $950,000 to more than $1.3 million.

Balanced Nutrition also attracted questions when its 2021 and 2022 tax filings failed to provide the salaries of its top employees, including Hill, and also failed to mention family members were “key employees,” as required by federal guidelines, according to The Assembly.

DHHS rules required that Hill get permission to hire relatives, but she didn’t do it until 2023, even though her adult son, mother and Robinson himself previously worked for her. Records show that, as of January, Balanced Nutrition listed only two full-time employees: Hill and Kimberly Cephas, a former Guilford County assistant district attorney and the daughter of Hill and Robinson.

These kinds of financial issues are not foreign to Hill and Robinson, who have filed for bankruptcy three times, lost a home to foreclosure and also lost a day care center they previously ran. In 2012, the couple were evicted from a rental home after failing to pay $2,000 in rent to Robinson’s elderly landlord who at the time was dealing with his terminally ill wife’s care. More than a decade later, the lieutenant governor still owes the landlord for the rent he never paid.

Robinson also failed to pay county vehicle taxes for more than a decade and federal income taxes for seven years. 

When asked by WRAL about the overdue tax bills, Robinson blamed his wife, saying that she was responsible for their finances and that he didn’t even know if he filed his federal income taxes separately or jointly.

“When you start talking about taxes, if I’m the guy doing them, then I’m going to jail,” Robinson told WRAL. “I’m not very good at math.”

Financial hardship is something that many Americans face in their lives, so it’s not entirely fair to attack Robinson and his wife for their past and recent issues – but it’s also not fair for Robinson to use his “struggles” as campaign fodder to show his determination instead of using them to highlight the importance of financial literacy.

“I have had my ups and downs with finances a time or two,” Robinson wrote in his 2022 memoir, “but they are the ups and downs of a man who is determined to make a go of it in the world without a steady stream of government ‘charity.’”

Speaking of charity, there’s at least one prominent conservative who spoke to The Assembly about his skepticism surrounding the story Hill gave for shutting down Balanced Nutrition.

Don Carrington, the former executive editor of Carolina Journal, the news outlet run by the right-wing John Locke Foundation, told The Assembly that in 2022, Balanced Nutrition generated close to $2 million in revenue, and Hill paid herself between $150,000 and $199,500 per year.

According to Carrington, considering Robinson and Hill’s past financial issues, a guaranteed paycheck of at least $150,000 is a lot to walk away from.

“That doesn’t make sense to me, because now that the primary’s over, the governor’s campaign is fully staffed,” Carrington said. “I don’t see Yolanda out there making a lot of appearances or giving speeches.” 

Carrington also questioned why someone else, like the couple’s daughter, who was already working for Balanced Nutrition, didn’t take over for Hill instead of shutting the program down.

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