CA Boy Scouts Acquired Taxpayer Funds Under False Pretenses, ACLU Lawsuit Suit Charges

January 28, 2003 12:00 am

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RIVERSIDE, CA – In documents unsealed in federal court today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California charged a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America with fraud because it obtained taxpayer funds knowing that the organization’s rules would not allow it to comply with state and federal non-discrimination laws.

The lawsuit was filed last August under the Federal False Claims Act, which allows concerned citizens with knowledge of fraud used to obtain federal funds to file suit on behalf of the United States government.

“This isn’t about the Boy Scouts’ right to choose its own members,” said Glenn Goodwin, who is represented by the ACLU in the federal lawsuit. “This is about an organization that lied to obtain taxpayer funds. Isn’t telling the truth a part of the Scout Oath?”

According to the ACLU lawsuit, the Old Baldy Council of the Boy Scouts of America applied for and received a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for recruitment of boys in public schools to new Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops.

As an express condition of this $15,000 grant, the Council signed a certification of compliance with federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and provision of services and benefits. The lawsuit charges that the Scouts had no intention of honoring that commitment because their rules prohibit hiring, or accepting as youth or adult members, gays and lesbians and people who refuse to swear an oath to God.

“The Old Baldy Council cannot comply with the Boy Scouts of America’s national policy of discrimination and at the same time comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws,” said Martha Matthews, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “The Boy Scouts can’t have it both ways – they must either stop discriminating in employment and membership, or stop receiving taxpayer money.”

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