A U.S. Justice Department anti-human trafficking grant program faces internal complaints after two nonprofits were denied funding in favor of less-established groups whose applications were not recommended by career DOJ officials, Reuters reports. The awards of more than $1 million to Hookers for Jesus in Nevada and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation in South Carolina triggered a whistleblower complaint from DOJ’s employee union to the Inspector General. The grants, which help nonprofits and local governments aid human trafficking victims, effectively replaced recommended grants to two long-established nonprofits – the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach and Chicanos Por La Causa of Phoenix. The reason given for the replacements was to “distribute funding across as many states as possible.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2830 asked the inspector general to investigate whether politics factored in the grant awards. Chicanos Por La Causa has opposed the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The head of Catholic Charities in Palm Beach has participated in Democratic National Committees. Hookers for Jesus, which received $530,190 over three years, is run by a born-again Christian trafficking survivor who has lobbied against decriminalizing prostitution, a policy position backed by many Republicans.