A local LGBT-rights organization has come under fire once again from critics who allege that the group's executive director, Marc Loveless, produced a slew of faulty invoices to show to state authorities who reimbursed the organization for more than $30,000 in spending on what was supposed to be HIV/AIDS-related prevention activities, in-house salaries and other measures related to the group's mission.
The Coalition for Justice and Respect ( CJR ) submitted dozens of invoices, dating as far back as 2008, to the Illinois Department of Public Health ( IDPH ) purporting, critics charge, to have spent thousands on various projects such as paying for prevention materials to be given to members of high-risk groups, issuing honoraria to symposium experts and pumping out more than $5,000 to secure airtime on Chicago's WVON radio station.
But a number of payees, vendors and former employees are alleging that CJR never made at least some of the payments the group told the state it made. Longtime LGBT-rights activists Ben Montgomery and Charles Nelson are listed as having received honoraria for participating in a May 2008 workshop on Black gay men. Nelson told Windy City Times that he never received payment, although it was promised, for participating in the workshop. "I was told, 'The check is coming. The check is coming,' but I never received any check," Nelson said. And Montgomery stated that he never participated in the CJR workshop.
Denise King of WVON told Windy City Times that CJR never purchased airtime on the station. "I know nothing about that," she said, adding, "That has to be false." CJR reported to IDPH that is spent several thousand dollars purchasing airtime on WVON for a one-hour program in February 2009. King said that program "never took place" and that the station would never charge the $5,000 amount for an hour of airtime that is listed on the invoice.
CJR also listed $11,000 in salary payments to the organization's four employees, including Loveless. Two former employees who asked not to be named told Windy City Times that paychecks have yet to be cut for their services to the organization.
A spokesperson for IDPH told Windy City Times that grantees who falsely report expenditures are subject to receive a request from the state to return their funding under the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act or face criminal charges should state officials determine that a grantee has engaged in willful attempts to mislead officials.
Attempts to reach Loveless for comment were unsuccessful as of the press deadline.