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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Iowa Family Policy Center received over $3 million in federal funds

By Andy Kopsa | 04.16.10 | 6:00 am

Between 2004 and 2009 the politically influential Christian organization Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) received more than $3 million in federal grants through two subsidiaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley speaking on the steps of the state Capitol earlier this year (photo by Jason Hancock/Iowa Independent).

In 2004 and 2005 the IFPC received a total of $850,000 from the Administration for Children and Families’ Compassion Capital Fund.  From 2006 to 2009 they received $2.2 million through the U.S. Healthy Marriage Demonstration Fund, which is doled out in yearly increments of $550,000 and will be awarded to IFPC through 2011.

The Iowa Family Policy Center’s 2007 tax return claims $558,337 of their $1.1 million revenue came from federal grants. Tom Campbell, a representative at the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), the awarding agency within the HHS, said this money must be passed from the IFPC to a third-party to execute the Healthy Marriage Demonstration — the name under which the grants were awarded to IFPC — as part of the government’s Healthy Marriage Program.

The money IFPC receives apparently goes to a marriage-counseling program called Marriage Matters, which offers couples weekends along with marriage and pre-marital mentoring.

The IFPC and its political action committee are a leading voice of opposition to same-sex marriage in Iowa. The group advocates for an amendment to the Iowa Constitution banning same-sex marriage through their LUV Iowa initiative. They also support the candidacy of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats, who has promised to issue an executive order putting a stay on the Iowa Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage until a constitutional ban is brought up for a vote.

The group has also created its share of controversy, most recently garnering headlines when it publicly claimed that homosexual activity was “more dangerous for individuals who engage in it than is smoking,” and thus, needed to be banned via constitutional amendment.

Recipients of federal funds are bound by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or disability in providing services. However, even though the Iowa Supreme Court ruled last year that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, sexual orientation is not currently part of any federal civil rights language.

‘Inherently sinful’

Bryan English, the director of communications for the IFPC, said recently in a phone interview regarding the one-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Iowa, “This isn’t a civil rights issue. [Homosexuality] is a choice in behavior and as a Christian organization we don’t believe this is a right, it is a sin against Jesus Christ.”


Screen shot of IFPC's statement on gay marriage being more dangerous than smoking.

Summarizing his thoughts, Bryan offered, “Their [homosexuals] behavior first and foremost is inherently sinful,” later adding:  “Promoting gay behavior, teens will choose that lifestyle, make poor choices and become more susceptible to STDs.”

Des Moines resident and blogger Erich Riesenberg first reported the $3 million in grants on his blog,, which was launched in response to the IFPC’s “more dangerous than smoking” claims and is named after the group’s president, Chuck Hurley.

“I used to work for non-profits and am familiar with how they work,” Riesenberg said. “Knowing that [the IFPC is] a non-profit organization that in my opinion seems like a hate group, I wanted to check them out.”

Spending overlap probable

Dr. Mike Hartwig is the vice president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, for which he receives an annual salary of $78,098. Hartwig also serves as the program director for IFPC’s Marriage Matters, the program that is supposed to be the recipient of the federal grants.

Mike Hartwig, Chuck Hurley, Bryan English, Marriage Matters, The Iowa Family Policy Center and the IFPC Action PAC all share office space at 1100 N. Hickory Blvd. in Pleasant Hill, just east of Des Moines.

According to a representative of the U.S. Healthy Marriage program in Washington, D.C., federal grants are to be passed out through an intermediary organization (IFPC) to the Healthy Marriage Program contractor (Marriage Matters). But he did admit that certain overlap in spending might occur between the grantee and contractor programs, although not technically allowed.

Marriage Matters is not registered with Iowa Secretary of State as a separate corporation, but rather as a registered trademark of the Iowa Family Policy Center.

The federal Compassion Capital and Healthy Marriage grants are meant to build capacity and conduct training of staff and board of directors but may not be used in the direct administration of service. This means that IFPC’s Marriage Matters can use the money to train staff and volunteers as marriage mentors, but cannot pay the expenses to host a weekend mentoring retreat for couples or for any other direct service expenditures.

The HHS representative said that from every indication the IFPC met all the requirements on the front end for securing the grant. The awarding federal agency is responsible for oversight on the back end, after the money has been released to the grantee. However, many times the HHS relies on citizen’s reporting suspected abuse in use of federal dollars to begin an investigation.

Steve Klingaman, a Minneapolis based non-profit consultant who reviewed the IFPC’s 2007 tax returns for The Iowa Independent, said, “In terms of allocations to programs versus administration and fundraising, their reported percentages are almost perfect,” later adding: “I have interest in what seems to be a disproportionately high expenditure on program service insurance as well.”

While IFPC’s political work may raise concerns for church/state activists, Klingaman says without knowing the timeline of programming and specific grantees of IFPC funding, it is impossible to determine if there is any impropriety.

A spokesman for IFPC did not return numerous phone messages seeking comment.


  • andreaslights

    Ignorance? NO, this guy KNOWS that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Yet he MUST use that argument because it is foundational for all his conclusions. Without the (false) element of choice, the argument that homosexuality is wrong or sinful is unsupported. WHY? Because whoever or whatever created the Universe and humanity, a.k.a. GOD, created homosexuality as part of the human sexual spectrum. He, (this MAN) thinks he and his hoodlums know better than the Almighty. What IS dangerous, however, is Man's tampering with God's will: this is a perfect example of our being smart enough to cause problems, dumb enough to cause problems. Homosexuality is/will be part of the solution to humanity's problems, not the cause of them. Hopefully enough people will figure that out before we destroy the planet from our over-consumption through overpopulation.

  • itserich

    Thanks so much for this story. Hope it gets some interest.

    Regarding Steve Klingaman's analysis, his comment seems very wrong to me:
    “In terms of allocations to programs versus administration and fundraising, their reported percentages are almost perfect”

    For FY 2007, IFPC raised $371,000 in public support and spent $128,905 on fundraising. This excludes the government grant money, which I think is appropriate, as that is a multi year grant which likely requires little expense to keep in place. At least, that is how I analyze non profits. :-)

    The ratio of fundraising expenses to program expenses is just one variable and there is no right or wrong answer, it is donor choice how they want their money spent. It is a long running debate amongst donors, non profits, and consultants.

  • rextrek1

    what a disgrace..the gov't gives these idiots TAX MONEY……Tax Money Paid by LGBT Americans…so these nitwits can turn around and USE this money to fight against Equality…Pathetic!

    • J-Law

      So it's kind of like how the government gives tax money to Planned Parenthood. Tax money paid by pro-life Americans…

      • critical_thinking

        Not exactly. First the semantics. “Pro-life” is religious spin. People are either for or against reproductive choice. If you have a problem with abortion, you are free to choose not to have one.

        Similarly, if you have a problem with marriage equality, you are free not to marry someone of the same gender. Unfortunately gay taxpayers do not enjoy the same marital choice that you do.

        In both cases, arguments in opposition are born of religious persuasion. Tax dollars should never be used to promote religion. The First Amendment is quite clear in that regard.


    J-Law-little diferent-nice try!
    Abortion is a legal procedure in which in 95% of the cases, a small clump of cells the size of a finegrnail is removed-govt has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body!
    Stopping gay marriage between two adulst who pay taxes is bigoted-takign tehri money and paying for the bigoted attacks is immoral and wrong!

    • xrayspecks

      Americans spend money like fools. Where do you think “federal funds” come from?

      Just ask any of these fools, “Where is 'Exempt income' legally defined in tax law?” And, of course, they don't know.

      So, here you go fools, learn now. A computer scientist has data mined the tax law for your convenience, and made this info available for FREE. Read the actual tax law before spewing hot gas from your ignorant, Money-serving mouths…

  • shadow_man

    To those of you using the Bible as a weapon against homosexuality, you are wrong. Homosexuality is not a sin. The Bible is constantly being taken out of context to support anti-gay views. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, Greek temple sex worship, prostitution, pederasty with teen boys, and rape, not homosexuality or two loving consenting adults.………

    Thats why Jesus never mentions it as well. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being gay. Jesus, however, clearly states he HATES hypocrites. If you preach goodness, then promote hate and twist the words of the Bible, you are a hypocrite, and will be judged and sent to hell. Homosexuals will not go to hell, hypocrites will.

    This is very similar to the religious bigots of the past, where they took Bible passages to condone slavery, keep women down, and used Bible passages to claim blacks as curses who should be enslaved by the white man. People used God to claim that blacks marrying whites was unnatural, and not of God's will.

  • shadow_man

    For those of you claiming homosexuality is a “lifestyle”, that is a false and ignorant statement. Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don't choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.……
    Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ,2933,155990,00.html………

    There is overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is generally a biological trait that is determined pre-natally, although there is no one certain thing that explains all of the cases. “Nurture” may have some effect, but for the most part it is biological.

    And it should also be noted that:
    “It is worth noting that many medical and scientific organizations do believe it is impossible to change a person's sexual orientation and this is displayed in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association.”

  • shadow_man

    The National Library of Medicine pubs confirm that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced in the first trimester of pregnancy, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned, bearing no relation to an individuals ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society.

    From the American Psychological Association: homosexuality is normal; homosexual relationships are normal.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Asociation and American Psychiatric Asociation have endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens mental and physical health and longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors.

    America's premier child/mental health associations endorse marriage equality.

  • shadow_man

    On a final note, so basically, i am forced to pay from my taxes to fund an anti-gay group that discriminates against my civil rights. Basically, i am forced to pay for discrimination against my marriage rights. Keep it up bigots. You remember all those times you made blacks sit in the back of the bus, made them drink in separate fountains, disallowed them to marry whites? You remember when they finally rose up, and said enough is enough, and started fighting back till they got their rights? History is going to repeat itself. Keep pushing us like that and we will start pushing back. We will no longer stay in the closet. We will no longer allow ignorance to be spread. We are going to fight back harder each time until we get our rights, by any means necessary. Keep it up bigots :)

  • weshlovrcm

    First of all, the IFPC is not a “Christian” group. Christ never condones homophobia and this sinful behavior conflicts with Christ's major commandment to treat others as we want to be treated. Secondly, the IFPC is not a “pro-family” group either. “Pro-family” groups do not attack and destroy other American families, whether they are gay, single-parent or whatever.

    I'm shocked that in a time of depression-era unemployment and huge budget deficits that our government is spending millions of our hard-earned tax dollars to promote the evil anti-gay agenda. We can tolerate groups which spend millions to redefine homophobia as a “religious belief,” but we should not be subsidizing them with our tax money. It's appalling!

  • Talis

    I thought Jesus was gay?

  • Kevin_Atlanta

    Thank you so much for beginning to bring this to public attention. In the heat of the PropH8 initiative in California I began looking into George W Bush's “Faith-Based Initiative” program. What I've discovered is that the Churches are not held to the same accounting standards and have subsequently misappropriated funds into the $42 million of US Taxpayer money spent by the Catholic, Evangelical and LDS/Mormon Cults of Jesus. The misappropriation of funds on the international missions of Hate, Fear-Mongering and even Uganda's Kill the Gay bills are all supported with US Taxpayer dollars.
    The office of Faith-Based Initiative deserves destruction because the Hate and fear-mongering of these Cults of Jesus has been directed against LGBT Citizen taxpayers and is Unconstitutional.
    We all have to raise our voices and demand accurate accountings and the claw-back of these funds where ever they have been applied to the Cults of Jesus campaigns of Hate and Fear-Mongering.

  • itserich

    Iowa Public Radio reported this morning that the IFPC will stop taking federal funding. Of course, the decision was made some time ago, and is not related to people finding out about it.

    It is confusing, because the money is supposed to be passed through IFPC to Marriage Matters. Think the FOIA request is still a must, to find out how the money was spent.

  • Shane Vander Hart

    This is a non-story, go ahead and submit the FOIA if you like, but you'll find out there is nothing to this story. Marriage Matters had its own set of books, and those activities have been separate from the other activities of IFPC. The fact you are writing this post shows that you are completely ignorant of the non-political activity that IFPC engages in.

    Even with Mike's salary, salary's can be divided up to be paid from different accounts, and if you knew Mike at all you would know Marriage Matters is where he spent the bulk of his time. These grants were not a huge secret either. I've known for years that they have been the recipients of these grants.

    So again, a non-story.

    • itserich

      Grow up Shane.

      Over $4 million in public money, no oversight at all. Yeah, worth a look.

      • Shane Vander Hart

        Do you even know how grants work? You have quarterly reports, etc. that you have to file. You have constant communication with your grant manager. Who is saying there wasn't any oversight?

        • itserich

          Shane, for a man who expends so much energy attempting to appear pious, you exhibit a great deal of arrogance.

          • Shane Vander Hart

            How am I being arrogant, by pointing out you have to do reporting and have contact with a grant manager? That's my experience working with three different federal grants. I'm just saying there is oversight, now if you could tell me who is saying there isn't. If it was the federal agency that awarded the grant or IFPC themselves, then you can say there was no oversight conclusively. Until then it is just an assumption based on prejudice toward the organization.

          • itserich

            News flash, Shane. I think even the God you profess to worship would refrain from calling others “completely ignorant.”

          • Shane Vander Hart

            Being ignorant of a subject is not the same as being stupid. I apologize if you took it to mean that I thought you or others were stupid, but it does appear that some don't have an understanding of how federal grants work.

          • itserich

            Are you literate? I took it to mean you are arrogant.

          • Shane Vander Hart

            This comment thread has become pointless since the post isn't about your perception that I'm arrogant, rather it is about an accusation that IFPC is mishandling their federal funds. To which I still haven't seen anybody back up the claim that there was no oversight. Again, having worked with federal grants, that is not the case. There is always oversight, and lots of reporting. So much so it can become a pain, but it is necessary since it is taxpayer money.

          • itserich

            Unlike you and Mike, I do not get federal funding, so yes, back to work. :-)

          • Shane Vander Hart

            Today's a day off for me, since I worked yesterday.

  • LJF2345


  • Anonymous

    C’s parsing is just that; nit picky language amounting to as much as the “not guilty” in the Casey Anthony trial. Note they didn’t say “innocent.”

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