Taxpayer funding for a politically connected AIDS awareness group is being held up by state health officials over questions about the organization's spending.
Leaders of the Chicago group say they should have gotten $1.2 million months ago from a state HIV-prevention fund overseen by the Illinois Department of Public Health. But the department has sat on the money for the Let's Talk, Let's Test Foundation as it reviews how the not-for-profit group spent public health funds it got last year.
"Basically, we're making sure they did what they said they did with the money," Health Department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said. "It would be somewhat irresponsible for us to allow more funding to flow if we didn't make sure they met the previous grant agreement."
The foundation -- created by state Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) in 2002 to sound an alarm about the spread of AIDS through African-American neighborhoods in Chicago -- includes a who's who of Chicago's black community among its leaders and sponsors. Current and past board members include Howard, Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th), U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former Cook County Commissioner Bobbie Steele.
Recently, the foundation has had financial problems.