Reposted from PAAuditor.gov
Financial gimmick used to prevent auditors from tracking nearly $1 million PA taxpayer funds
HARRISBURG, PA – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said he is outraged that abortion alternative provider Real Alternatives is attempting to use the courts to block access to records showing how and where it spent $906,000 in state funds.
“It is outrageous that a simple request for documents about how nearly $1 million in taxpayer funds was spent is met with a raft of legal action,” DePasquale said referring to Commonwealth Court documents (106 MD 2017) filed yesterday by a Philadelphia law firm representing the Harrisburg-based Real Alternatives.
“By its own admission in the court documents, Real Alternatives keeps 3 percent of the state grant money it is charged with doling out to a network of abortion alternative providers — that’s $906,000 of taxpayer money for which there is zero accountability,” he said.
“The idea that any organization receiving public funds would hide behind the courts to keep taxpayers in the dark makes my blood boil,” DePasquale said, noting that this is the first time he has been sued for conducting an audit.
Real Alternatives currently has a $30.2 million five-year grant from the Department of Human Services (DHS), which expires June 30, 2017. The Real Alternatives grant was made through DHS’ Alternative to Abortion Services Program, which provides pregnancy testing, counseling and other assistance to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
According to court documents, Real Alternatives charges all of its subcontractors a three percent fee to “promote the development and expansion of Real Alternatives initiatives … both locally and nationally.”
“I am not alleging that the money is being used for illegal activities, but as Pennsylvania’s chief fiscal watchdog I demand to know how and where our tax money is being spent,” DePasquale said. “Thirty million is a lot of tax dollars, I want to ensure 100 percent of those funds are providing services to pregnant women and their families in Pennsylvania as the grant agreement requires.
“If this attempt to conceal information from the public persists, I will call upon the governor and the General Assembly to immediately terminate the contract with Real Alternatives. With the state facing a $3 billion deficit, any organization that refuses to be held accountable should not receive a single cent of taxpayer funding.”
Last September, DePasquale started an audit of a DHS’ grant to Real Alternatives after a DHS audit revealed that Real Alternatives deducts a 3 percent fee from state reimbursements to its service providers. Real Alternatives refused to provide information to allow DHS auditors to review reimbursements from the three percent fee or to provide any details on how the funds from the fee are used.