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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
February 3, 2006

State 'abstinence' head faces an ethics probe

Columbus--The supervisor of the Ohio Department of Health�s �abstinence only� sex education program is in hot water over a thwarted attempt to secure a state contract for a company she is involved in.

Valerie Huber, who manages the anti-gay Abstinence Education program, faces an ethics investigation, according to department spokesperson Jay Carey.

The investigation was ordered by health department director Dr. Nick Baird on January 6 after he was tipped off that Huber had become the agent of a for-profit business trying to get a contract with her own department.

Cox Creative of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, sought to do a media campaign and material design for grades 712 totaling nearly $100,000 over two years.

Cox is owned by Alan and Melissa Cox. However, according to filings with the Ohio Secretary of State, Huber registered the company in Ohio on December 12 and by doing so, became its statutory agent. She gave the Ohio Department of Health as her address.

Melissa Cox is the former director of marketing and public relations for the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, which advocates �curing� gays through �conversion therapy� and lobbies against condom availability. She has also served as an editor for Focus on the Family�s Physician magazine.

Carey said that Huber had �no authority� from the heath department to have that association with Cox Creative.

According to the proposed contract, Huber was also to oversee its execution.

Contract negotiations between the Coxes and Huber went on between September 2005 and January 20, 2006 before they were was halted by the department due to conflict of interest, according to Carey.

Huber�s department controls federal Title V funds dedicated to �abstinence only until marriage� programs.

Those programs, pushed by the Bush administration and social conservatives, are accused of taking available funds away from scientifically-based HIV prevention services and for discriminating against LGBT youth who are not legally allowed to marry.

Huber has also been responsible for the department�s annual abstinence-only conference held in October, which has been criticized for its overt religious messages and anti-gay speakers.


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