In its original category, some fifty organizations were given higher scores than Best Friends by Justice Department reviewers. Forty of them, despite having higher rankings than Best Friends, would receive no money at all from the government.
Some who have worked with Best Friends praise the organization and its work. Wanda Fox, the principal of a Washington D.C. public school, Brighton Elementary School, said: "None of the girls we have had in the program have gotten pregnant. They don't drop out." Best Friends, Fox says, "empowers young people to take control of their lives."
But four current and former career Justice Department officials say Flores played favorites in awarding grants to Best Friends and question why their reservations about the group were set aside.
Peterson simply says of the grant for Best Friends: "The administrator made sure the fix was in on this one."
Murray Waas is a Washington-based investigative reporter who primarily covers national security and law enforcement issues. He is a contributing editor to the National Journal and has also written for the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe and other newspapers and magazines.