Court blocks audit over grants to counsel pregnant women

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A state court isn’t allowing Pennsylvania’s fiscal watchdog to examine how a nonprofit grant recipient spent money it got by charging a fee to contractors working on the grant to counsel pregnant women about alternatives to abortion.

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Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer wrote in Monday’s decision that an audit is allowable if it’s necessary to determine whether the money from the fee is being used in line with the grant agreement.

But Jubelirer notes that the Harrisburg-based agency, Real Alternatives, already said that it isn’t using the money in accordance with the grant agreement, and Real Alternatives argues it isn’t required to.

The court didn’t decide whether the money from the 3 percent fee Real Alternatives charges to contractors should be considered public or private, or whether the fee is permissible. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office says it’s disappointed, but respects the court’s decision.