Being a good citizen and a good steward of the representative form of government God has given us requires more than voting and voting knowledgeably and responsibly; it requires holding elected officials accountable.
That’s exactly what Wisconsin Family Council’s sister organization, Wisconsin Family Action, did last week. Wisconsin Family Action joined with Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin in sending a letter to Governor Evers demanding that he explain by what authority he has given Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin $2.4 million from the federal COVID relief funds that have been given to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, sent the letter to the governor on behalf of these pro-life organizations. WILL explains the general background of this matter noting that the State of Wisconsin received nearly $4.5 billion in federal funds in 2020 and 2021 as a result of COVID-relief passed by Congress. When Wisconsin receives federal funds, state law permits the governor to accept the funds and “designate” the appropriate agency to “administer any such funds.” But this is not a license to establish new grant programs—that is an act of lawmaking reserved for the Legislature. And even if the executive branch could establish new grant programs, Chapter 227 requires state agencies to follow the rulemaking process established in state law.
In November 2020, Governor Evers announced the creation of a $10 million “COVID-19 Pandemic Response Nonprofit Grant Program” to distribute federal COVID relief dollars. This grant program was not established by the Legislature and, further, the Wisconsin Department of Administration failed to follow the legal rulemaking process when establishing standards for grant applications. This is unlawful.
Governor Evers then proceeded to give Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the state’s largest abortion provider, $1.4 million from his concocted 2020 “COVID-19 Pandemic Response Nonprofit Grant Program,” and $1 million last month from the also concocted “Equitable Recovery Grant Program.” The grants to Planned Parenthood in 2020 and 2022 reveal more legal problems than those outlined by the failure to follow state law on rulemaking.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration has certain criteria for applicants to the Nonprofit Grant Program. One of those criteria prohibits entities that “have received funding from another CARES Act program.” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin received CARES Act funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, thus violating the terms of the Wisconsin DOA grant.
The February 2022 “Equitable Recovery Grant” of $1 million to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin does not have the CARES Act funding restrictions. But this grant, like others, runs afoul of a state law that prohibits “federal funds passing through the state treasury as a grant” being awarded “wholly or partially or directly or indirectly” to a pregnancy program that promotes, refers for, or performs abortions. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin meets all of the above criteria, making each of these grants unlawful.
During the Walker administration, significant steps were taken to defund Planned Parenthood. But Governor Evers is avowedly pro-abortion and is apparently looking for any way, legal or not, to get money to the giant abortion provider. Some see what the governor has done as a kind of quid pro quo, since Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin spent $700,000 in 2018 to help him win the election.
The letter was sent last Monday. To date, no response has been received from the governor.
“We the people” deserve an answer from the governor. If he has broken the law in how he has handled these COVID relief funds, we need to know. As we’ve said numerous times during the virus situation, the rule of law must not be set aside during an emergency. That’s when we especially need it.
Governors don’t get to just unilaterally make decisions about how our tax dollars are appropriated—and federal money that comes in the form of grants is still taxpayer money. Ensuring that our money is spent in compliance with the law is part of holding elected officials accountable—and sometimes organizations such as Wisconsin Family Action are in a position to do that on behalf of citizens and is honored to do so.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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