The culture of
legislating morality runs deep in Indiana.
influence of evangelical Christian ideology on Indiana politics can be gauged
by the scores of lawmakers who lined up to support efforts such as limiting the
state's definition of marriage to heterosexual terms and defunding Planned Parenthood.
The Indiana Family Institute, described on
its website as "a 16-year-old non-partisan, public education and research
organization," supported both the aforementioned pieces of legislation. The
state supports IFI, as well, with a federal Medicaid waiver grant aimed at
increasing paid child support obligations through a Healthy Marriage Demonstration Project
Marriage Demonstration Project.
it pitches itself as non-partisan, IFI's other core project involves running
the Hoosier Congressional Policy Leadership Institute
Congressional Policy Leadership Institutemeant to "inform citizens of
pro-family, pro-life and pro-marriage policy and issues."
IFI website counts as a legislative victory passage of HJR 6, which seeks to
have Hoosiers vote on whether to amend the state constitution to define
marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. And at a $75-per-plate
fundraising dinner last year in Carmel, IFI honored Gov. Mitch Daniels
Mitch Danielsfor signing the defunding of Planned Parenthood bill, which
it celebrated as "the nation's strongest pro-life bill and the strongest
in our state's history."
unanswered about whether IFI is capable of setting aside its political and
moralistic underpinnings as it engages in a $1.5 million collaboration with the
Department of Child Services to promote "healthy marriage."
the face of multiple requests for information, the state has been unable to
produce any evidence that oversight and accountability measures are in place
and functioning. Multiple calls and emails to the Indiana Family Institute
The story that can
be pieced together through public documents serves to illustrate the depth of
connection between IFI and Indiana politicians at the state and federal level,
as well as highlight the potential for ethics violations and need for greater
Starting with Sue
last year's battle to defund Planned Parenthood, Sue Swayze
Swayzewas all over the media. As Indiana Right To Life's legislative
director, Swayze was the public face of the Planned Parenthood defunding
Swayze told NPR
told NPRlast year that Planned Parenthood's "corporate brand is the
face of abortion ... their mission," leveraging the well-known anti-abortion
meme that the women's healthcare provider pushed abortion to turn a
profit.Conceding that a federal
law bars public funds from paying for abortion, Swayze still maintained in that
same NPR interview that taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood was "unacceptable."
Public records show
that, in addition to her lobbyist roles, Swayze is a regular contributor to a
political action committee involved in lobbying for Planed Parenthood defunding
and a hetero-centric definition of marriage.
Swayze, it isn't her master's degree, being a former Indianapolis Chamber of
Commerce vice president nor her role as the Christian Chamber of Commerce
executive director that is most important in her work at IFI. According to her
IFI online bio, being "daughter of the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ" is her most important credential, which shapes how she "approaches
the political arena," which she calls the "mission field" for
her Christian faith.The two areas
for Swayze's — as well as the IFI's — public mission work are
specifically marriage and "life" issues.
issues, to be sure, are front and center for Swayze, but also relationship work
through her role as IFI's program director in charge of implementing the DCS
Healthy Marriage Demonstration Project. IFI calls its DCS project "Hoosier Commitment/Parents TWOgether for Indiana Families."
Commitment/Parents TWOgether for Indiana Families."
goal of the DCS project , according to the grant agreement is to "test new
strategies to strengthen the Child Support Enforcement program ...The primary
services to be tested are designed to achieve these ends by promoting healthy
marriage and healthy parental relationships."
The project is
designed to serve 1,872 couples and parents in Marion County and about 200 more
in Hamilton County over a five-year period ending in 2013.
The state is
required to submit progress reports semi-quarterly and at the end of the
reports are to "detail the major activities and accomplishments of the
period covered ... the status of achievement of project goals and objectives,
data regarding the number and characteristics of participants recruited and
enrolled, and the number and characteristics of participants who have left the
program, including the reason(s) for leaving." Also, any experienced or
to the grant agreement, the state's evaluation activities may include "collecting
and reporting services information and outcome information on every
participant; ... information on paternity establishment and establishment of, and
collection on, child support orders..."
when such materials are requested, the state will not produce any evidence that
such information is being collected.
grant agreement notes that DCS "will have at least a 30-day period for
review and comment" on progress reports before releasing them to the
public. Research for this story began about a year ago and around that time an
open records request for all the public documents associated with this grant
was issued. No outcomes analysis was ever made available.
The state failed to
make public any of the required reports and left unheeded requests for program
administrators to explain the relationship between the state and IFI.
The grant allows
IFI to offer incentives to people interested in training to teach curricula
such as John Covey's The 8 Habits of a
Successful Marriage. And it allows for incentives to referring
organizations and celebrations of successes.
DCS offered no accounting of these expenses. In fact, the only area for
semi-detailed line-item summaries on the documents the state provided contained
zeroes. Only total scheduled payouts were listed, annual installments of
$350,000 since 2009, plus $100,000 in 2008.
grant agreement also has a provision relating to the media. It says IFI will "cooperate
with DCS in utilizing the media to promote this project." The amendment
goes on to emphasize the project's aim to promote healthy family goals and "engage
in an extensive public relations campaign supporting healthy marriages."
Yet DCS and IFI rebuffed numerous requests to discuss these goals.
No stranger to politics
While the flow of
public information remains clogged, the communication links between IFI and
Indiana's political network are well-documented.
for 15 years as press secretary, campaign manager, communications director,
In the mid-1990s,
Coats introduced a group of bills known as the Project for American Renewal,
which his website describes as "a comprehensive initiative aimed at
shifting power and funding from Washington directly to local, faith-based and
non-profit groups which are successfully working to resolve many of the Nation's
demonstrated its skill for collecting such federal funding in 2005 when it
received a $50,000 Compassion Capitol Fund grant
Compassion Capitol Fund grantfor a "capacity growing program"
focused on marriage.
Several GOP members
of Indiana's congressional delegation have helped IFI's cash flow by using
taxpayer money to send staff to IFI leadership seminars.
Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, in the article,
"Faith Group Gets Paid for Training Hill Staff," highlighted payments
of $500 each from Indiana Reps. Larry Bucshon, Dan Burton and Todd Young and a
$1,000 payment from Rep. Todd Rokita.
GOP Congressman Mike Pence
Congressman Mike Pence, now running for governor, has appeared at IFI
fundraisers and operates in lockstep with its agenda to defund Planned
Parenthood based on erroneous claims that the women's health provider uses
federal funds to perform abortions. Mike Pence is a "founding
congressional sponsor" of the IFI leadership program.
IFI has scores of
like minds at the Statehouse. House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner
Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, R- Cicero, is a prime example. At IFI's annual
fundraiser in 2009, GOP Reps. Turner and Dave Cheatham of North Vernon
announced a renewed legislative push to pass an anti-same sex marriage
session, Turner authored both "the marriage amendment," HJR6, and the
abortion bill that moved to defund Planned Parenthood, HB1210.
representatives signed on as co-sponsors to HJR6. Fifty-two signed on for
the Senate side, Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, stepped up to sponsor both
initiatives. HJR6 received the sponsorship or co-sponsorship of seven senators,
HR1210 received six. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, joined Banks and Sen. Jim
Tomes, R-Wadesville, as a primary sponsor of HJR 6 last session. Kruse is
currently listed as an IFI advisor.
staff "absolutely are the driving force behind [HJR6] É they worked very,
very hard to get not-moderate Republicans into office and to introduce this
legislation," said Lori Morris, former president of Indiana Stonewall Democrats
Stonewall Democratsduring a phone interview last year. "They have had
a huge impact on LGBT issues in Indiana."
is a political action committee that works to elect LGBT people to office and
support gay-rights legislation throughout the country.Morris was president during passage of
Indiana General Assembly
General Assemblymust approve the amendment another time before it could be
added to a 2014 ballot. If the voters approve it, the amendment defining
marriage as between one man and one woman would be added to the Indiana
declaring HJR6 a "featured victory" of the 2011 session, Smith posted
the following statement on IFI's website:
the Marriage Amendment by such overwhelming margins is an exciting step in IFI's
long-term plan to ignite an enduring cultural transformation. If pro-marriage
majorities in the Indiana General Assembly are retained in November 2012, and
the Marriage Amendment passes again in 2013 (placing marriage on the ballot in
2014) we hope to encourage a healthy debate on the importance of marriage
within our society."
talked about the far-reaching impact IFI has on anti-gay legislation, as well
as public opinion, in Indiana. "Of course they have had a huge impact on
LGBT issues here," Morris said. "Every article, I mean every article,
that someone reads in the papers has the Indiana Family Institute's commentary
addition to its role in launching the anti-gay marriage amendment, the IFI also
opposed hate-crime legislation designed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) persons, calling the effort "the brain-child of
activists hoping to promote homosexuality, bisexuality and gender identity
Browning, former Indiana resident, gay rights activist and outspoken critic of
IFI said in a Huffington Post
Postarticle that IFI was "lying" when it "claimed the
legislation would only protect the LGBT community. ... They're simply playing
to personal prejudices and bigotry as well as the fear of "the other.""
All in the family
IFI filed articles of incorporation in 1989. The group is a state affiliate of
Focus on the Family (FOF) and the Family Research Council (FRC), two of the
most well-known, well-organized and politically influential Christian groups in
FRC functions as FOF's political arm. Headed by Tony Perkins, the FRC garnered
hate group status by The Southern Policy Law Center
Southern Policy Law Centerdue to its anti-gay "hate-speech." The
SPLC justified its stance by citing a FRC pamphlet Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys
Work to Normalize Sex with Boys:
of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of
consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets of a new
sexual order.' "
Perkins wrote in 2010: "While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a
completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a
disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem."
it did with Daniels, Pence and Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr, IFI bestowed
upon Perkins its "Friend of the Family" award.
Internal Revenue Service requires non-profit groups to report some of their
financial dealings on 990 tax forms.
in the Criterion quoted a Swayze
analysis of Planned Parenthood's tax forms from 2008.
exceeded expenses by $2.1 million. In that same year, it received taxpayer
subsidies of almost $2.9 million, an estimated $1.8 million of which was
state-controlled dollars," Swayze noted.
likens Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood's providing basic health care to
underserved populations to taxpayer-funded abortion, a charge Planned
Parenthood of Indiana rejects.
asked for a comment on this story, Jon Mills, director of communications and
marketing for Planned Parenthood of Indiana sent the following statement:
Parenthood is a provider of high-quality, affordable health care serving more
than 100,000 Hoosiers across the state, providing services such as life-saving
cancer screenings, Pap tests, birth control, testing and treatment for STDs,
sexual health education and health counseling. Planned Parenthood is a
major provider of health care to underserved populations including those
without insurance and those on Medicaid – and often times may be the only
health care provider an individual sees. All federal and state dollars
are dedicated solely for preventive health care for individuals who need it
most. At a time when health costs are skyrocketing and many families are struggling
to make ends meet, we should all be working to expand access to health care,
not restrict it.
Swayze nor her boss, Curt Smith, offered the applied the same enthusiasm demonstrated
for analyzing PPI documents with the media to the task of tracking the Medicaid
dollars flowing IFI's way.
of IFI's 990 from 2010 show a recent example of how its expenses trailed
revenue in one category — that of marriage education training
—while deficits in other
categories were trimmed.
its core activities of "providing education and events on issues impacting
the family," IFI reported receiving $404,466, up from $269,124 a year
earlier. Reported salaries dropped to $90,000 from $195,794 in 2009. Expenses
increased to $367,810 from $298,260 while IFI's total liabilities shrank to
$13,569 from $49,300. Swayze's pay is not detailed. Smith reported compensation
of $90,000. He also reported a $10,000 balance on a $40,000 loan for "cash
is unclear whether IFI is accounting for the DCS money separately from its 990.
If not, the grant for 2010 represents 87 percent of that year's take. IFI's
2009 reported receipts fell short of the $350,000 the state allocated for IFI's
Hoosier Commitment. But, IFI lists Hoosier Commitment expenses along with the
leadership program's expenses for total program expenses of $312,860 in 2010.
For $59,752 in
2010, the form said, Hoosier Commitment served 347 people. This is the most
detailed statement of accountability that extended research and open records
requests could yield — one line on Part III of Section C of IRS form 990
IFI checked a box
later on in the 990 indicating that it should fill out a tax schedule detailing
lobbying expenditures to influence public opinion at the grassroots level or
direct lobbying of a legislative body. But the spaces of the required schedule
are all blank. So no transparency of the lines between lobbyist, policy wonk
and social worker are apparent to the average citizen.
The state is not worried
According to an
email from Indiana Inspector General David Thomas, "state employees are
bound by the full Code of Ethics. Contractors, such as grantees [IFI] are not
bound by the full Code of Ethics — only the donor restriction rule,
meaning they may not offer gifts to state employees."
are not allowed, but questions remain unanswered what sort of compensatory
wiggle room may be found in the unaudited, multi-year grant.
2010, officials added amendment No. 1 to the DCS grant agreement with IFI first
signed in 2008. The change allowed the state "to match federal child
support funds with in-kind contributions by third parties."
who are these third parties and is their interest in donating at all examined
for conflicts of interest? This question also remains unanswered.
agreed to raise $510,000 in matching local dollars to maximize federal support
of the DCS grant. But IFI has made no public accounting of these donations. The
contract states IFI must source matching funds from contributors who have "no
contractual or financial relationship with the state that could raise a
question of conflict of interest or any appearance of impropriety."The packet then refers to the ethical
requirements "that apply to persons who have a business relationship with
the state" in addition to complying with all "state, federal and
local laws ... related to religious, lobbying and political activity."
The award and
utilization of federal grants are governed by many rules. IFI must abide by the
1964 Civil Rights Act, any funds from a grant must be kept in a separate
account and apart from any political activity and proselytizing. State civil
rights laws apply as well, along with the Americans With Disabilities Act and
other employment and beneficiary rights guarantees.
complaints about discrimination against LGBT
people would have no legal outlet for relief in Indiana. IFI and the Indiana
General Assembly have so far been successful at preventing efforts to enact an
anti-LGBT discrimination law in Indiana.
groups such as ACLU
find that proving full separation of assets between policy groups such as IFI
and associated political action committees is difficult because smaller
organizations tend to occupy the same space and utilize the same employees.Furthermore, according to a
representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, officials
realize overlap is likely even though it's not technically allowed.
similar program to Hoosier Commitment run by the Iowa Family Policy Center, another
FRC affiliate, resulted in an Iowa ACLU investigation and
unanswered questions about the "beneficiary rights" of gay couples
an AP investigation in 2011:
[IFPC] paid for
education and counseling services — but also funded employee salaries and
utility expenses as the group fought against gay marriage on multiple fronts.
According to one University of Iowa
researcher who consulted on the grants, the center also refused to provide
[relationship counseling] services to same-sex couples.
Law and Policy Professor Sheila Kennedy
and Policy Professor Sheila Kennedyof the School of Public and Environmental
Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis has spent years
looking into taxpayer grants to 'faith-based' organizations.
an upcoming academic article she writes that historical notions of a conflict
of interest, "where a person makes a decision in his official capacity
that results in personal financial gain" are broadening as conflicts
become more common as leaders adopt multiple careers, positions and
now includes conflicts of roles or duties — the sort of conflict that led
the Founders to create our system of checks and balancesÉ Increasingly,
conflicts of interest are now conceptualized as a form of biased judgment.If — due to some particular
interest or belief — a public official is incapable of rendering a fair
judgment or decision, the existence of that bias may constitute a conflict of
Boston is a senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State
and State, a watchdog group that works to protect the constitutional wall
keeping religion out of politics and politics out of religion.
Boston, with over
two decades of experience monitoring the religious right behind him, said the
relationship IFI has with the State of Indiana is the most entwined he has ever
a nationwide lobbying effort is afoot to advance IFI's particular, but by no
means universal, interpretation of Christian theology in the government sphere.
Boston notes that examples of taxpayers funding such groups are common.
this kind of relationship," between Christian conservative groups,
politics, and their receipt of federal funding "is par for the course,"
— Rebecca Townsend
Townsendcontributed to this report