Watchdog Calls on Michigan to Terminate Contract with Anti-Abortion Nonprofit, Real Alternatives

Real Alternatives Misused Taxpayer Dollars While Failing to Provide Promised Health Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2019

Contact: Bryan Dewan, bdewan@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, as well as Attorney General Dana Nessel and Auditor General Doug Ringler, to investigate and terminate the state’s contract with Real Alternatives (“RA”), an anti-abortion nonprofit organization that receives state funding to run the Michigan Parenting and Pregnancy Support Program (the “MPPSP”). CfA’s investigation found that, despite receiving $2.6 million in Michigan taxpayer funds over the course of nearly five years, RA appears to have both misused taxpayer dollars and failed to provide adequate health services.

Read the complaint here.

CfA Counsel Alice C.C. Huling said, “Real Alternatives has grossly mismanaged Michigan’s alternatives to abortion program.  It seems its leaders have lied to state officials, engaged in self-dealing, and wasted scarce taxpayer resources leaving women without healthcare services. The state should immediately investigate and shut down this ineffective program.”

RA has consistently failed to meet its own stated program goals for implementing the MPPSP and providing services to Michigan women. For example, RA initially promised to serve 2,000 women during the first year of the program, but over the four and a half years the MPPSP has been in place, only 3,771 pregnant women have received any services. RA’s contracts with the state have been amended repeatedly to adjust for RA’s poor performance metrics.

RA also appears to have misallocated MPPSP funds, prioritizing payments for ineffective advertising and pay increases for its executives, with no comparable increase in the number of women being served.

Further, RA appears to be skimming state funds by withholding 3% of the MPPSP funding intended for subcontractors for its own private, unspecified use, even though RA’s administrative expenses are separately provided for in the MPPSP contract. In Pennsylvania, where RA also operates, the auditor general concluded such skimming was improper.

RA also appears to have lied to Michigan governmental officials, claiming to have received multiple perfect audits for its Pennsylvania programming although research reveals that Pennsylvania never audited RA. Moreover, though its state contract requires RA to refer clients to pregnancy and prenatal service providers, it does not.

Finally, RA claimed its services would result in fewer abortions in Michigan and – despite scientific evidence to contrary – also alleged this would lead to a corresponding decrease in the incidence of breast cancer. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services statistics reveal there have been no such declines.

Because Michigan law prohibits the embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, the making or use of false pretenses with the intent to defraud, and breach of contract, CfA has asked the attorney general and auditor general to investigate. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil fines.

Ms. Huling continued, “Whatever a person’s position on abortion, we should all be able to agree that opposition to abortion alone – without any other expertise or experience – is not sufficient qualification to run a government-funded healthcare program.  Before Michigan fritters away any more taxpayer money, the state should redirect RA’s funding to effective healthcare providers, and RA officials should be held accountable for any misconduct.”

Campaign for Accountability is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

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