County puts a hold on $20,000 grant to pro-life group - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

County puts a hold on $20,000 grant to pro-life group

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - The County of San Diego has placed a hold on $20,000 in taxpayer money that Supervisor Bill Horn wants to give to a pro-life group. Receipts obtained by News 8 show the group used taxpayer money in the past to promote a religious agenda.

Life Perspectives in La Mesa is a pro-life group currently applying for $20,000 in taxpayer grant money. Supervisor Bill Horn wants to OK the grant to pay for the group's annual fundraiser Life Walk.

The money is on hold pending a county investigation to find out if taxpayer money given to the group in the past through Horn's office was used illegally for religious purposes -- a violation of the separation of church and state, according to the ACLU.

"To promote the most freedom for the most individuals, the best way to do that is to keep the government out of the business of religion," David Blair-Loy of the ACLU of San Diego said.

Records obtained by News 8 show Life Perspectives has received more than $80,000 in taxpayer money since 2006.

Last year, $1,600 of county money paid for printing 8,000 Life Walk pledge forms. The forms, posted in a digital format on the group's web site, include descriptions of the group's highly religious "Whole Life Curriculum".

"We learned about God and how He is the only one who can determine a person's value," one passage on the pledge form reads.

The records show Life Perspectives also used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to pay for religious speakers at its fundraising events.

In 2006, $8,000 in grant money went to Jennifer O'Neill Ministries when the former actress appeared at a USD gala to support Life Perspectives, according to county records. O'Neill is well-known for her pro-life speeches.

In 2007, another $8,000 in taxpayer money went to former NBA star A.C. Green, also known for his religious messages.  The money paid for Green's appearance at a similar Life Perspectives event.

The president of Life Perspectives told News 8 in an email the group is cooperating with the county review of its finances.

County Supervisor Bill Horn declined to be interviewed. Grant money Life Perspectives receives is recommended by Supervisor Horn and then approved by the full Board of Supervisors at a public hearing.

The county's review -- being conducted by the office of County Counsel -- is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

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