Did The Bachmann Family Clinic Violate Its Agreement Not To Engage In ‘Religious Based Counseling’?

As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann has not been fully truthful about the government earmarks her family benefited from through her husband’s clinic. That’s not her only problem, however. A review of the government contract reveals that the clinic might have violated a provision in one of its grants, an infringement which could open the door to civil penalties.

When signing the contract, Bachmann & Associates, Inc. agreed to the following provision:

XXIII.3 “GRANTEE agrees that no religious based counseling shall take place under the auspices of this grant.”

On August 23, 2007, Tim Johnson, who Dr. Marcus Bachmann had authorized to represent him, signed this contract. Bachmann & Associates, Inc. agreed to devise and implement a plan to utilize a certain treatment with patients suffering from both a mental illness and a substance-use disorder. In return, the clinic received $24,401 between 2008 and 2009 for both clinician training and the administrative costs associated with the project.

But in its bid to receive a separate government contract that also targeted patients with dual disorders, Bachmann & Associates, Inc. described the treatment program that the clinic offered as “faith-based.” The proposal even warns that “clients will need to be comfortable with counseling and education emphasizing spiritual growth utilizing Christian language concepts.”

The program plan included a section detailing just what the faith-based aspect of the treatment would look like:

It will be utilizing Christian concepts and language that some non-Christians might be uncomfortable with…Church involvement will be encouraged and clients will be encouraged to utilize their church as a source of support and accountability. Local members of Christian recovery groups will routinely share their recovery process and be available as mentors. Groups will include short opening and closing prayers. The concept of God or HP will often be referred to in a Christian manner by both staff and clients.

The treatment plan should come as no surprise when compared with the clinic’s self-promotion. On its website, the Bachmann counseling center presents itself as “providing all clients with quality Christian counseling.” And just last year, Dr. Bachmann said his clinic employs “twenty-six Christian, pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage counselors” who are driven by the belief that “the undeniable truth and the godly principles of truth in God’s work should direct our path.” In his personal mission statement, Bachmann wrote, “I believe my call is to minister to the needs of people in a practical, effective, and sensitive way. Christ is the Almighty Counselor” (emphasis in original).

Out of 19 counselors listed on the website, twelve counselors mention God, Christ or the Lord in their personal mission statement. Four others include the role of spirit or faith in their counseling processes. Six employees quote Bible verses. If the clinic, its staff, its programs and its owner, Dr. Bachmann himself, are emphasizing that Bachmann & Associates, Inc is a Christian-based counseling center, what evidence suggests that the clinic did not offer Christian-based counseling when dealing with the patients specified under the state grant?

Sarah Bufkin