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Bivins wants audit of Chicago LGBT center

Senator questions use of state money

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 11:05 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, wants the state to look into the propriety of some events held at a Chicago community center that might have been “sexual in nature.”

Bivins, now assistant Republican leader of the Senate, asked the Legislative Audit Commission to investigate events at the Center on Halsted and to audit all of the center’s state funds received for fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015, he said in a news release Wednesday.

Many of the center’s events are consistent with a community center, he said, but other events there are questionable.

“It has been brought to my attention that some activities that are sexual in nature have been presented at the Center on Halsted – the 2013 Grabby Awards, which highlights ‘top talent and performance in the gay erotic film industry,’ as well as an annual international men’s rubber fetish event,” Bivins said in the release. 

“I believe the taxpayers of Illinois have a right to fully understand exactly how state funds are being spent by this organization and what public benefit Illinois taxpayers have actually realized by these expenditures for these specific events.”

The center received about $2.5 million from the state between 2012 and 2014, he said.

According to the center’s Web site, it offers programs to advance Chicago’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied community, including yoga, volleyball, job placement, HIV testing and group therapy. More than 1,000 people visit the center daily.

The center rents meeting rooms and recreational spaces. Rates range from $25 an hour for small meeting rooms to $800 an hour for its computer center.

According to an audit on the center’s Web site, it had about $4.4 million in revenue in fiscal 2013, with about $2 million coming from government funds and about $500,000 coming from rental income.

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