The twisted web of church and state

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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


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



it pitches itself as non-partisan, IFI's other core project involves running

the Hoosier

Congressional Policy Leadership Institute

meant 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

for 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."

Questions remain

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

remain unreturned.

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

government transparency.

Starting with Sue


last year's battle to defund Planned Parenthood, Sue


was all over the media. As Indiana Right To Life's legislative

director, Swayze was the public face of the Planned Parenthood defunding



told NPR

last 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

" 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."


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

anticipated problems.


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.


President Curt Smith

, a Sagamore

of the Wabash

recipient under Gov. Robert Orr, worked in Washington D.C.

for 15 years as press secretary, campaign manager, communications director,

state director and chief of staff for Sen.

Dan Coats

and Rep.

John Hostettler


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

social problems."


demonstrated its skill for collecting such federal funding in 2005 when it

received a $50,000

Compassion Capitol Fund grant

for 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.


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

, 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

during 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

the amendment.



General Assembly

must 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

in it."


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


article 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

the country.


FRC functions as FOF's political arm. Headed by Tony Perkins, the FRC garnered

hate group status by The

Southern Policy Law Center

due to its anti-gay "hate-speech." The

SPLC justified its stance by citing a FRC pamphlet Homosexual Activists

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.


Fuzzy math


Internal Revenue Service requires non-profit groups to report some of their

financial dealings on 990 tax forms.

An article

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

flow purposes."


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

for 2010.

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.

Oversight orders


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

seeking counseling.

According to

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.


and Policy Professor Sheila Kennedy

of 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

, 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,"

Boston said.



contributed to this report

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