February 27, 2020 FOIA, Press Releases, Themis Project

Watchdog Files FOIA Lawsuit Seeking Records about Anti-Choice Group Obria’s Management of Federal Grant Money

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2020

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, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), seeking documents responsive to two FOIA requests regarding the anti-choice Obria Group and its affiliate Obria Medical Clinics (collectively “Obria”) concerning their administration of funds they received through the Title X family planning program.

Click here to view the complaint (FOIA requests attached as Exhibits).

CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Obria is an inept organization that should never have received a federal grant. These records will shine a light on how this incompetent organization is spending taxpayer dollars. HHS must comply with the law and release these records to the public immediately.”

Obria is a religious ministry masquerading as a healthcare group. It is a collection of nonprofit crisis pregnancy centers that do not offer contraceptive choices, including condoms, beyond fertility awareness. Obria opposes abortion without exception. Obria applied for federal Title X family planning grant funding in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Despite Obria’s refusal to offer the family planning services Title X was created to provide, on March 29, 2019, HHS awarded Obria $1.7 million in Title X funding for Fiscal Year 2019.

CfA is filing suit to obtain records in response to two separate FOIA requests to HHS. On January 2, 2020 CfA requested all quarterly financial reports, single audits, family planning reports, and annual progress reports submitted by Obria to HHS in Obria’s first year administering the Title X program. As a Title X grantee, Obria is required to submit this information to HHS. CfA seeks these records to shed light on how Obria is spending the taxpayer dollars entrusted to it.

Additionally, on October 28, 2019, CfA requested communications between HHS employees and Obria, along with all program reporting materials, including sliding fee schedules, accounting records, and action plans submitted to HHS from April 4, 2019 onward. CfA seeks these records to understand how Obria and HHS are collaborating in their administration of Obria’s Title X project, which is supposed to efficiently provide acceptable and effective family planning and healthcare services to low-income Americans.

HHS has not responded to either request. CfA is filing this lawsuit to force HHS to comply with the FOIA.

Ms. Huling continued, “We are being forced to sue for information that should be readily available to the public. The FOIA exists to provide the American people with timely access to public records. HHS needs to be transparent and release these records immediately.”

Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, 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.