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State has frozen Free2Be grant access, investigation ongoing, group has received $1.7 million since 2014

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The closing of Huntsville-based Free2Be’s offices across Alabama raised questions Monday and it became an issue in the governor’s race Tuesday.

GOP candidate Scott Dawson, a Hoover evangelist, expressed concern that Free2Be received state grant dollars and called for an investigation into the group that provides counseling and other services to the LGBTQ community.

Dawson aimed his criticism at Gov. Kay Ivey.

“The Ivey Administration has betrayed Alabama values, by giving nearly $1 million dollars, taxpayer dollars to Free2Be, an activist organization that promotes transgenderism and alternative lifestyles to Alabama children,” Dawson said.

Ivey’s campaign fired back, pointing out that the Free2Be funds from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, ADECA, came from the federal government, which requires some domestic violence and victim fund spending to be earmarked for the LGBTQ community.

Ivey also disputed the suggestion she supported Free2Be.

“This is utter nonsense. Governor Ivey does not support the values pushed by this organization,” according to a statement issued by her campaign.

Dawson also called for an investigation by the Alabama Attorney General’s office and a full accounting of all Alabama grants.

Ivey’s office said the state is already investigating Free2Be after an ADECA review in March found the agency had a debt to the IRS for failure to pay payroll taxes.  The group’s grant access was suspended pending an ADECA review next week, the governor’s office said Tuesday.

And, Free2Be has received substantial funding from federal sources, passing through ADECA. An ADECA spokesman said Tuesday since 2014 the group has received about $1.7 million.

Free2Be has not responded to requests for comment on the decision to close its doors. Wednesday morning, their Board of Directors released a statement on their Facebook page to address the closure.