Tuesday :: Jun 10, 2008

Want Some Golf and Abstinence With That?


by eriposte

Murray Waas sends in his latest joint story with ABC Nightline's Brian Ross and Anna Schecter about yet another instance of cronyism in the Bush administration, this time in the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) - relating to Government awards worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The video of Nightline's broadcast of this story last night is here. You can tell something's fishy when you notice that (emphasis mine):

A senior Justice Department official says a $500,000 federal grant to the World Golf Foundation is an appropriate use of money designed to deal with juvenile crime in America.

"We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids, golf is the hook," said J. Robert Flores, the administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Fascinating. As the story points out, much lower rated programs which just happened to [cough] coincidentally be tied to prominent Republicans who were in dire, dire need of the Government help for their groups - such as, former President George H. W. Bush (honorary chairman of the World Golf Foundation's First Tee program that got $0.5M) and Bill Bennett's wife Elayne Bennett (her Best Friends program for promoting abstinence that got $1.1M) - got tons of money when highly effective programs that ranked much higher were denied grants:

A key witness will be a former employee of Flores' office, Scott Peterson, who says the grants were awarded based more on politics than merit.

[...]

Many top-rated programs were denied federal grants.

A program to help troubled teens in San Diego, Vista, was ranked number two by the staff out of 202 applicants in its category of prevention and intervention but was turned down for a grant to help deal with inner city teen violence in San Diego.

Another program, designed to train adult guards to deal with teens in custody, also was denied federal money even though it was ranked by the staff number 2 out of 104 in its category

[...]

Flores was appointed to the position by President Bush six years ago and has overseen about $1.5 billion dollars in grants during that time.

His former employee, Scott Peterson, said Flores holds daily prayer sessions in the Justice Department office and frowns on giving grant money to organizations that provide sex education or condoms to teenagers.

Instead, said Peterson, Flores favors programs that promote sexual abstinence.

A Washington, D.C. program, Best Friends, that promotes abstinences was awarded $1.1 million by Flores even though it ranked 53rd on a list of 104 applicants.

You can see additional examples in the Nightline video, one of which is an award given to a Republican and former all-star whose baseball foundation was given the grant and he had no idea why he was the recipient.

Murray has additional comments and context on his blog where he also notes that:

...here is a link to a story that appeared in Youth Today, a trade publication of the American Youth Center, which got the ball rolling on this story in the first place. A hat’s off to its editor Patrick Boyle.

P.S. Also note Harper's Scott Horton has been writing about some of the goings on in the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice.

eriposte :: 6:29 AM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!