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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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FBI Probes Boy Scouts Over 'Phantom' Members In Gay Ban Wake

by Doug Windsor New York Bureau
Posted: January 25, 2005 9:02 pm. ET

(New York City) The FBI is investigating the Boy Scouts of America amid allegations the organization is inflating its membership to gain funding. Membership in the BSA has declined since a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that
held that the Boys Scouts and its affiliates can prohibit gays. The high court said the constitution gave scouts the right to choose its members.

The Scouts also prohibits atheists. A number of cities banned the scouts from using public facilities, and charitable groups like some United Way chapters cut off the scouts. But, in cities where agencies like the United
Way continues to fund the BSA it is alleged that troops are being encouraged to list fake names as members to boost enrolment making the group eligible for more money. Federal agents are probing local councils in at least three states - Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. "The BSA national leadership continues not to follow their own oath of honesty," Scott Cozza. of Scouting For All told "This isn't the way to deal with dwindling numbers - being inclusive is." In Birmingham, Alabama, boy Scout volunteer Tom Willis said he knew something was wrong when he saw that 20 youngsters on the list for a scouting program all had the same last name: Doe.

"It was just so blatant, Willis told the Associated Press. "They didn't even try to make up names," said Willis, a dentist from Decatur and a former Eagle Scout who serves on the board of the Greater Alabama Boy Scout Council, which runs scouting programs in northeastern Alabama. The FBI refused to comment on its investigation. Greg Shields, a spokesman at the Boy Scouts' national office in Irving, Texas, said the organization has numerous policies meant to ensure the accuracy of its membership rolls, and is "dedicated to the accurate reporting of membership." The Greater Alabama Council claimed 10,000 new Scouts that year, and tax forms show it had revenue of $6.5 million, including $100,709 in government grants. In a United Way funding application, the group said it served almost 120,000 youths and adults in 2003. "I would say the numbers are probably inflated 30 to 40 percent in our council," Willis said.

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Boy Scouts' grant applications, audits and tax forms from 1999 through last year from the United Way of Central Alabama. Nationally, the Boy Scouts claim 1.2 million adult leaders and 3.2 million youth members in six programs, including the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts. Suspicions have led to investigations elsewhere. In Texas, a Scout group removed thousands of names from its membership rolls and a federal grand jury two years ago looked into the matter. No charges were filed. In Atlanta, independent auditors are investigating claims the metropolitan area's Boy Scouts inflated black membership numbers to 20,000 to gain more donations. A civil rights leader contends there are no more than 500 blacks actively involved.

© 2005



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