GOP says Soros-backed nonprofit may have illegally used millions in federal grants for lobbying activities

Two Republican lawmakers and the former Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chief of staff under President Trump have demanded President Joe Biden’s HHS “audit” its grants to the Soros-backed Alianza Americans, a non-profit immigration advocacy group, for potential illegal use of taxpayer money.

If Alianza sounds familiar, it may be because, in September, the group filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) after he famously flew illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

In a Friday letter obtained by the Washington Examiner to HHS’s Inspector General Christi Grimm, Texas Republican Reps. Chip Roy and Beth Van Duyne noted, “Over the past two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration have awarded $8.5 million to Alianza Americas.”

“Despite statutory and regulatory restriction on lobbying for recipients of federal funding from all federal agencies (P.L. 101-121),” the letter continues, “forms submitted to the Internal Revenue Service by Alianza Americas appear to show activity in direct violation of these restrictions.”

As the Examiner explains, “Federal law prohibits federal grant money from being used ‘directly or indirectly’ to ‘pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device’ or influence the government to take a position on law or policy.”

Between 2016 and 2020, Alianza, 501(c)(3) charity, received approximately $1.4 million from Soros’s Open Society Foundations network.

The organization has called for the defunding of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Alianza also received a $7.5 million CDC grant “to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate impacts among Latinx and Latin American immigrants” in February 2021 and in July 2021, it was awarded $1 million from an HRSA grant to “increase COVID-19 vaccine status” in select communities.

According to the former HHS chief, Brian Harrison, who now serves as a Texas state House representative, the HHS inspector general needs to find out if Alianza used that money for lobbying activities that were outlined in the group’s fiscal year 2019 federal form 990 documents.

On those documents, the group disclosed that it had held “two congressional briefings” in Washington, D.C. related to immigration issues and “activated a nationwide community organizing strategy” following the cancellation of temporary protected status (TPS) for immigrants during Trump’s time in office.

Also noted on the nonprofit’s 2019 tax documents is Alianza’s partnership with groups “to engage” TPS holders “so they could tell their own stories to policymakers in Congress and advocate for permanent solutions, and for immediate measures to protect TPS holders.”

“I have continued to monitor actions taken by the Department and am deeply concerned that taxpayer dollars, in the guise of federal grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are being used to fund lobbying activities and contacts in the United States and foreign jurisdictions and to promote illegal immigration into the United States,” Harrison wrote.

Rep. Roy and Van Duyne shared Harrison’s concern.

“As members of Congress we take seriously our roles of ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and within the confines of the law, and we are sure you share that goal,” they wrote. “As such, we are requesting a review of all grants received by Alianza Americas as well as the publicly disclosed actions taken by Alianza Americas that would be in violation of the law and federal regulations.”

While it is unclear whether Alianza engaged in similar political activities in 2022, on its 2019 tax forms, it claimed it wasn’t involved in any lobbying.

According to Paul Kamenar, counsel to the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative ethics watchdog, that claim may be enough for his group to file a complaint with the IRS.

“It appears that Alianza incorrectly stated on their IRS Form 990 that they do not engage in any lobbying when it appears that they do by getting their supporters to contact Congress to introduce or influence legislation regarding the status of illegal immigrants,” he said. “They are also required to file a separate form with the IRS detailing how much they spend on such lobbying activities.”

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