How To Get Abstinence Funding From The Bush Administration

It's bad enough when the Bush administration awards tax dollars to abstinence-only programs that don't work. It's worse when our money goes to far-ri

It's bad enough when the Bush administration awards tax dollars to abstinence-only programs that don't work. It's worse when our money goes to far-right abstinence groups based on their political connections.

And it's even worse still when these same abstinence groups get more money than they even asked for.

An organization that promotes sexual abstinence for teens received a federal grant of over a million dollars, twice what it had requested, despite the skepticism Department of Justice staffers had about the group and the fact that it refused to participate in a congressionally mandated study.

So why did the Best Friends Foundation receive the grant from the Justice Department's juvenile justice office even though dozens of competing organizations were rated higher by the office's own reviewers? Current and former staffers say it was because of Best Friends' powerful president and founder, Elayne Bennett.

Not only is Bennett the wife of Bill Bennett, a former Reagan and Bush administration official and conservative political commentator, but she is also personally close to the chief administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), J. Robert Flores.

DOJ staffers were deeply skeptical when Best Friends applied for a grant of around a half-million dollars last summer. For one thing, the organization had backed out of a congressionally mandated study to examine whether or not abstinence programs are effective.

Then there were the DOJ staffers own internal reviews, which placed Best Friends behind dozens of other competing organizations. Out of 104 grants in their category, Best Friends ranked 53rd.

It's quite a controversy; read the whole thing. Our friend Murray Waas, who worked with ABC News on this story, has more.


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