Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.) is poised to secure $1 million in taxpayer funding for a children's mental health asylum she defended in a molestation case.
The $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill has $1 million earmarked for renovations for KidsPeace, a Pennsylvania nonprofit Wild represented in a 2005 lawsuit filed by a former patient who was anally raped by a counselor. Wild, who requested funding for KidsPeace earlier this year, argued in the lawsuit that KidsPeace should not be on the hook for a settlement payout to the patient because the rape was a "medical incident" that should be covered by its insurance plan, the Washington Free Beacon reported. She said KidsPeace did not have a "crystal ball" to prevent the counselor's "malfeasance," though the counselor was charged years earlier in the suffocation death of a 12-year-old patient.
The earmark for KidsPeace is listed in the 4,155-page omnibus bill that senators are expected to approve this week. The bill includes $772.5 billion in non-defense discretionary spending on earmarks like the KidsPeace renovation. The bill includes tens of millions more on spending on other pet projects, including $477,000 in spending at Equity Labs for "antiracism virtual labs" and $3.6 million on the "Michelle Obama Trail" in Georgia.
Wild's ties to KidsPeace came under scrutiny during her campaign, which she won by roughly 6,000 votes over Republican Lisa Scheller. A Republican group, citing the Free Beacon's reporting, detailed Wild's advocacy for KidsPeace in a TV ad and asserted that "Wild is pushing for a million dollars in taxpayer money for the hospital, the same hospital that paid her."
Best known for Zooming into a campaign event while driving, Wilds lashed out at the GOP group over the ad, telling them to "shut up."
Wild, who chairs the House Ethics Committee, selected KidsPeace out of a pool of hundreds of applications submitted to her office for congressional spending, according to a letter her office released earlier this year. Wild said in a request to the House Appropriations Committee on behalf of KidsPeace that she does not have a financial relationship with the organization. Wild did not disclose her past legal work for KidsPeace. She has also maintained close ties to the nonprofit. She toured the KidsPeace Orchard Hills facility with KidsPeace lobbyist Caren Chaffee in 2019. She also praised KidsPeace for housing more than 100 unaccompanied children from Central America.
Wild's office did not respond to a request for comment.