Watchdog Renews Call for Michigan to Terminate Contract with Anti-Abortion Nonprofit, Real Alternatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, renewed its request to Michigan government officials 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 (MPPSP). CfA’s letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Auditor General Doug Ringler reveals new evidence that indicates RA is diverting taxpayer funds, designated for healthcare services, to its own bank account, in apparent violation of RA’s contract with the state.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Real Alternatives has proven itself incapable of managing Michigan’s alternatives to abortion program. RA’s latest audits show the organization is apparently still pocketing state funds for its own unexplained, unspecified use. Michigan officials should immediately investigate and redirect taxpayer dollars to organizations that actually help Michigan residents obtain quality healthcare.”
This spring, RA submitted Financial Statement Audits for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (the Department). The audits show that RA is continuing to pocket a portion of taxpayer dollars for its private use.
In 2017, RA listed “Program Development and Advancement Agreement” as a source of revenue. However, RA did not define or identify this source of revenue, despite doing so for other revenue sources. In 2018, RA listed a similarly undefined source of revenue as “Program Defense and Advancement Fund.”
RA has not disclosed the purpose of these fees to the Department, nor has RA included them within its contract with the state. However, RA’s statements about the same fees in Pennsylvania – where the state’s auditor general concluded RA’s similar skimming of Pennsylvania taxpayer money was improper – indicate that the fees were meant to “promote the development and expansion of Real Alternatives initiatives… both locally and nationally.” RA, therefore, is apparently converting Michigan’s taxpayer funding for its own use, in apparent violation of RA’s contract with the state of Michigan.
CfA previously filed a complaint with Michigan officials about RA on January 14, 2019. CfA’s initial complaint described RA’s apparent misuse of taxpayer money and ongoing failures to provide adequate health services. For example, RA initially promised to serve 2,000 women during the first year of the program, but RA has regularly decreased those targets. Over the four and a half years the MPPSP has been in place, only 3,771 pregnant women have received any services, considerably fewer than the 9,000 clients expected to be served within that same timeframe by the terms of the initial contract.
Ms. Huling continued, “Taxpayer funding is a scarce resource, and it should be awarded to organizations that can be trusted to manage public funding. Michigan taxpayers should not be forced to pay for RA’s Pennsylvania-based executives to grow their brand recognition in other states, or whatever other self-serving effort RA is putting this money towards. Michigan officials need to step in and terminate RA’s contract and hold this organization accountable.”
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.