County yanks $20,000 grant from La Mesa pro-life group - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

County yanks $20,000 grant from La Mesa pro-life group

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- The County of San Diego has yanked $20,000 in taxpayer grant money from a pro-life group, because of the group's religious messages.

Supervisor Bill Horn had recommended the grant to the La Mesa based, non-profit Life Perspectives.

Since 2006, the group has received more than $80,000 in taxpayer money by applying for county grants through Horn's office. The money was used to support fundraising events, including the group's annual Life Walk event.

Following an investigation by San Diego City Beat and other media outlets including News 8, the office of County Counsel reviewed educational materials produced by Life Perspectives.

In a statement to News 8, County Counsel John Sansone wrote, in part:

"The Office of County Counsel has completed its review of this matter, and has found that one of Life Perspectives' education programs, which has as its goals to promote healthy choices, develop critical thinking, and make affirming choices that reflect the value of life, includes religious messages and content...  Because the County's Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grants, which are public funds, cannot be used for religious purposes or be used to raise funds to support religious purposes, and because the County and Life Perspectives never reached the point of entering into a Grant Agreement with respect to the grant, the Chief Administrative Officer has canceled the processing of the $20,000 NRP grant for Life Perspectives."

Under state and federal law, public money cannot be spent for religious purposes. Life Perspectives produces highly religious materials under its Whole Life Curriculum for private school children.

Sansone's statement continues that the county is still evaluating "what action, if any, can be taken regarding the past grants" from previous years.

Supervisor Bill Horn issued the following response in a written statement to News 8:

"I am disappointed with County Counsel's decision.  Life Perspectives is not a religious organization and I do not believe this is a religious matter.  I will be working with Life Perspectives on a similar request to aid them in all of the good work they do for women in crisis.  I will continue to work with Counsel to ensure that any public funding they receive is in accordance with county policy."

The president of Life Perspectives, Michaelene Fredenburg, also issued a response:

"Like Supervisor Horn, we are disappointed with the County Counsel's decision. However, we look forward to working with Supervisor Horn's office as we continue to empower students and adults to make life-affirming decisions through education and outreach."

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