WASHINGTON — Heads of a federal program for the poor have awarded about $100,000 in volunteer aid to an anti-abortion group, and an Administration appointee urged the organization to apply for $15 million more.
Thomas Pauken, director of the volunteer agency ACTION, termed unauthorized a letter a subordinate sent to 46 state offices of Birthright Inc. that provided a plan for seeking grants that would absorb virtually the entire $17-million budget of the anti-poverty program VISTA.
VISTA is an agency within ACTION.
Pauken said he knew nothing about the letter until several days later, and that he has scolded the author, Myron McKee, a $59,230-a-year special assistant in ACTION's administrative office.
McKee, whom Pauken first hired as a consultant, was an unsuccessful anti-abortion candidate for a Republican congressional nomination in Minnesota last spring. Pauken said he directed McKee to repay the government for the cost of the mailing but took no other disciplinary action because "I'm not going to fire a guy for making one mistake."