In November 2020, Governor Evers announced the creation of a $10 million “COVID-19 Pandemic Response Nonprofit Grant Program” to distribute federal COVID relief dollars. This grant program was not established by the Legislature and, further, the Wisconsin Department of Administration failed to follow the legal rulemaking process when establishing standards for grant applications. This is unlawful.
In the years prior to Governor Evers taking office, state agencies routinely followed the rulemaking process for grant programs established by the Legislature.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin received $1.4 million from the “COVID-19 Pandemic Response Nonprofit Grant Program” and $1 million in February 2022 from the “Equitable Recovery Grant Program.” The grants to Planned Parenthood in 2020 and 2022 reveal more legal problems than those outlined by the failure to follow state law on rulemaking.
Criteria established by the Wisconsin Department of Administration for applicants to the Nonprofit Grant Program bar entities that “have received funding from another CARES Act program.” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin received CARES Act funds from the Paycheck Protection Program – violating the terms of the Wisconsin DOA grant.
The February 2022 “Equitable Recovery Grant” of $1 million to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin does not have the CARES Act funding restrictions. But this grant, like others, runs up against a state law that prohibits “federal funds passing through the state treasury as a grant” awarded “wholly or partially or directly or indirectly” to a pregnancy program that (1) “provides abortion services,” (2) “promotes, encourages or counsels in favor of abortion services,” or (2) “makes abortion referrals.” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin meets all of the above criteria, making each of these grants unlawful.
WILL is requesting more information from Governor Evers to determine what legal authority the administration is relying on to make grants that appear to be unlawfully created, unlawfully administered, and allocating federal funds through to an entity that state law has established explicit and clear prohibitions.
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