Youth Program Funding

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A newspaper says a legislator who founded a youth detention program secured more than one-point-five (m) million dollars in state funding for the center, which employs his wife and son.

State Representative Sonny Baker and his wife Idena operate the Henry County youth detention program, which has received state funding under several names.

The story appears in today's Birmingham News.

Baker said the camp, located near Abbeville, was a community effort and saves taxpayer money. The Alabama Department of Youth Services, which helps fund Baker's operation, also defends the program.

But a Republican critic questions whether Baker, a Democrat from Abbeville, is misusing his position as a legislator to aid his own family.

Baker's situation isn't unique: Selma State Senator Hank Sanders is under currently investigation by the Ethics Commission for state money that he sent to nonprofit businesses created by or employing his relatives. The panel last year asked prosecutors to look at the cases of two Birmingham-area lawmakers with similar arrangements.

Ethics Commission Director Jim Sumner said no complaint has been filed against Baker.