July 17, 2006
Contact: Richard Davis, <>
Victims of Violence Shortchanged by Widespread Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Rockville, MD &ndash As Appropriations bills make their way through Congress, reports are beginning to surface of widespread fraud and mismanagement of taxpayer funds by domestic violence organizations. And it's the victims of domestic violence who are paying the price.
Two months ago, Paulette Wang pleaded guilty to embezzlement of $265,000 from the Asian Women United of Minnesota. Ms. Wang is scheduled to be sentenced on August 1.
Two weeks ago, SafeHouse of Michigan was ordered to repay $483,000 to the state because services it had billed for could not be verified. The order follows the resignation of executive director Susan McGee, who admitted she had falsified federal financial reports to cover up delinquent tax payments.
Industry insiders reveal that planning meetings for the Violence Against Women Act are often held in five-star hotels where high-priced consultants charge $10,000 for a single speech.
"Thanks to these pervasive fraudulent practices, victims of violent attacks are being shortchanged," explains Terri Lynn Tersak, spokesperson for RADAR. "Taxpayers and victims' advocates should be outraged that the Congress has done nothing to stop this rampant waste and abuse."
Department of Justice audits also reveal widespread financial mismanagement and abuse:
- A 2005 audit of Legal Aid of Nebraska identified $1.3 million in non-allowable and questionable expenses.
- An audit of a grant to the Texas Office of the Governor found that $852,000 in claimed matching costs could not be documented.
- A DoJ audit of Dane County, WI concluded, "We question $1,766,964 in grant funds received." The total amount of the grant award was $1,771,146. That means over 99% of the total grant expenditures were considered questionable.
Congressional mandates prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. But VAWA-funded programs routinely and openly discriminate against male victims. In one case a male victim approached 10 southern California shelters asking for help. All turned him away.
Now, 50 children's rights and family preservation organizations around the country are demanding strong Congressional oversight of VAWA programs, including investigating the widespread civil rights abuses of VAWA. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/VAWA-Resolution.pdf)
Congress originally passed the Violence Against Women Act to address an important social problem. But over the years VAWA has expanded without adequate Congressional oversight or attention to protecting the civil rights of the falsely-accused.
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.
- 30 -