DOJ whistleblower complaint suggests anti-trafficking grants went to questionable charities: report

A Justice Department fund for providing grants to organizations that fight human trafficking has reportedly become the subject of a whistleblower complaint.

Two charities that previously received funding under the plan and were considered top-tier applicants — Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix and Catholic Charities in Palm Beach, Fla. — were denied grants in the latest round of applications, according to Reuters, despite their history of serving human trafficking victims.

Both groups have ties to political causes seen as opposed to the Trump administration: Chicanos Por La Causa has vocally opposed the administration's immigration policies, and an official with Catholic Charities has previously stood as a Democratic convention delegate, per the news service. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In their place, two organizations viewed with skepticism by experts received funding. One group called Hookers for Jesus in Nevada, which critics say operates religious services it forces guests to attend, received funding, as did the Lincoln Tubman Foundation, which was reportedly founded by the daughter of a GOP convention delegate and supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE.

Reuters reported on Monday that a complaint was filed to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector general in December by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2830, which asked the watchdog to investigate whether politics were factored into the decision to change the grants.

The head of the department that administers the grants, Katharine Sullivan, defended the decisions in a statement to Reuters, pointing out that no top-tier applicants serving Nevada or South Carolina residents had applied for grants and indicating a desire to spread out the department's resources regionally.

"Our funding decisions are based on a merit-based review system," Sullivan said while adding that allegations facing Hookers for Jesus as described were "inappropriate."

"This might be something that may be appropriate for our civil rights department to look at. Those are not facts or things that we would know ahead of time," Sullivan added.