HARRISBURG, Pa. – Real Alternatives has released a statement regarding its Filing of a Lawsuit in Commonwealth Court to Prevent Overreach by The Auditor General. The statement says:
“Real Alternatives takes very seriously its responsibility to be a good steward of taxpayer money. That is why we have a spotless record of low administrative costs, outstanding performance, and high accountability over 20 years, throughout four administrations both Republican and Democratic. During that time, our program provided over 273,000 women in unexpected pregnancies with compassionate, caring and free services throughout the Commonwealth.
In addition to having contracts with multiple states using public funds, Real Alternatives also has other corporate contracts using private funds.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and now the Pennsylvania Auditor General (AG) are attempting to audit expenses related to Real Alternatives’ non-government, private contracts expenses using private funds. DHS and the AG have no legal authority over these privately funded contracts.
Several times over the last year and half, Real Alternatives has requested to discuss this legal issue with Commonwealth attorneys. They refused to meet with us.
Real Alternatives is amazed that this matter is even an issue since it was legally researched as well as discussed and approved by the then Department of Public Welfare prior to implementation. In addition, the same private contracts were in place during four different audits over the last 20 years, conducted by four different audit teams, and yet they had no issue whatsoever with those contracts. There must be some other reason why this is now an issue.
Although we regret we had to file the action, our request for a Declaratory Judgment by the court is necessary to save both parties time and expenses, and to finally resolve this simple legal issue.
In America, we are governed by the rule of law, and therefore we are simply following what the law provides in such differences of opinion. Far from constituting “a legal cover-up,” or hiding behind the courts, there is no more transparent way of resolving this issue than in a court of law which is a matter of public record.”
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 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.
Source: Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale