The shutdown of a LGBTQ advocacy group became the subject of a political showdown between two candidates in the Governor’s race.
After Free2Be closed all six of its locations unexpectedly Monday, Republican Scott Dawson called out Governor Kay Ivey for using taxpayer money to help fund the LGBTQ advocacy group.
“Let me be clear, the Ivey administration has betrayed Alabama’s values by giving nearly $1 million of taxpayer dollars to Free2Be, an activist organization, which promotes transgenderism and alternative lifestyles to Alabama children,” said Dawson.
The evangelist turned republican gubernatorial candidate is demanding an apology from the governor. Dawson claims the administration used close to $800,000 in taxpayer money [since Ivey took office in April 2017] through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ (ADECA) grant program to fund the group.
WAAY 31 dug deeper into the funding and confirmed with an ADECA spokesperson Tuesday that Free2Be has received nearly $1.7 million from multiple grants since 2014.
The fiery statements come just three weeks before the state primary elections. Political analyst Dale Jackson said the timing is convenient.
“Good politics by Scott Dawson. This is really good politics if you’re trying to win a Republican primary here in Alabama,” said Jackson.
Ivey fired back saying “He’s getting desperate” and released a statement clarifying that the money came from the federal government, which mandates the state to offer grants to organizations providing victim services to the LGBTQ community.
“They want to push Kay Ivey below 50%, so she’ll have to get into a runoff. Battle, Dawson and Hightower all want to be that guy that’s in the runoff with her. They think if they can get her in a runoff, they can win,” said Jackson.
The fallout from the LGBTQ advocacy group closing is what sparked the political showdown. According to the Governor’s office, during a routine review the state learned the non-profit was in federal debt with the IRS for payroll taxes. Free2Be was placed on high risk status on March 29th and their ability to access grant funds was suspended.
“LGBTQ issues still continue to be highly negative here in the state of Alabama, more so than anywhere else, so if you’re looking for a way to chip away at a big-time front runner this is a good divisive issue to do it,” said Jackson.
According to the governor’s office, no grant dollars are currently being distributed to the organization and will not be, until the audit is completed.
The state primary election is June 5th.