Law | National

VAWA advocate closes operation after DOJ questions funding






Diane Millich, Southern Ute, shared her story of surviving domestic violence, at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013. Photo from National Congress of American Indians

A survivor of domestic violence has shut down her operation due to a loss of federal funds from the Department of Justice.

Diane Millich, a member of the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado, made national news a year ago at the signing of S.47, a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that recognizes tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders. She shared her story of surviving abuse and a near-fatal shooting at the hands of her non-Indian former husband.

"Today is about women like Diane. I’m so grateful Diane shared her story. That takes great courage," President Barack Obama said at the signing ceremony.

Millich created a non-profit called Our Sister's Keeper Coalition to help other survivors. But DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women cut off all federal funds in 2012 and the group shut its doors in September, The Durango Herald reports.

“We were serving a lot of women,” Dedra White, the group's former director and Millich's sister, told the paper. “A lot.”

According to DOJ's Office of Inspector General, Our Sister's Keeper Coalition received $570,000 in federal funds between 2007 and 2011. Of that amount, auditors found problems with about $200,000 in spending that were considered "unsupported" and "unallowable."

"We found that, OSKC did not comply with essential grant conditions in the areas of internal controls, grant drawdowns, grant expenditures, budget management and control, grant reporting, and grant goals and accomplishments," the March 5 report stated. "Most significantly, OSKC commingled the OVW grant funds with funding from other sources, did not consistently identify funding sources for expenditures, made drawdowns in excess of grant expenditures, charged unallowable and unsupported costs to the grant, did not submit accurate or timely grant reports, and did not meet grant goals and objectives."

Millich did not talk to the paper about the audit.

Get the Story:
Sister’s Keeper under criticism for funds use (The Durango Herald 3/12)

DOJ Office of Inspector General Report:
Audit of the Office on Violence Against Women Grants Awarded to Our Sister's Keeper Coalition, Durango, Colorado (Redacted Version), Audit Report GR-60-14-004 (March 5, 2014)