Congress Investigating Planned Parenthood Abortion Compliance

House Energy and Commerce Committee "is investigating Planned Parenthood's federal funding, requesting lots of docs."

Politico health care reporter Sarah Kliff tweets that the House Energy and Commerce Committee “is investigating Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, requesting lots of docs.”

She points to this letter, dated 15 September, from Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards related to her organization’s “compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion.”

Stearns Planned Parenthood

There was buzz about this earlier this summer but news is apparently just breaking. Thus far, LifeNews.com is the only site on Google News with coverage of this development.

“Please provide all internal audit reports conducted by PPFA and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010. If not clearly indicated in the audit reports, please detail how much PPFA and each affiliate expended and received in Title XIX Medicaid funding, Title X family planning, and any other federal funding,” the letter says.

The letter requests any information related to improper billing related to federally-funded programs, proof that federal funds are not being improperly used to pay for abortions by PPFA or its affiliates, audits by state agencies of any Planned Parenthood affiliate, and documentation of how many affiliates currently receive Title X family planning funding.

The Stearns letter also requests documents on standards and practices related to billing issues, written policies and procedures, and its requests information on how the abortion giant keeps its family planning abortion monies separate and segregated.

[…]

“Please provide a summary of how PPFA detects criminal conduct and the policies and procedures in place to prevent it or report it,” the letter reads. “Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that all Planned Parenthood clinics report all cases of suspected sexual abuse, including statutory rape, to proper authorities.”

“Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that suspected sex trafficking is reported to the proper authorities,” it adds.

Planned Parenthood has strenuously denied any wrongdoing:

“We are proud of the trust millions of women place in us every year to provide high quality health care. We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility to the patients we serve, and recognize that the importance of our work is growing because in many communities we are often the only source of affordable quality health care for women,” the abortion business said. “This so-called report is a politically driven attack by an organization opposed to birth control and expanded access to birth control. It uses discredited, recycled and misleading claims to attack Planned Parenthood and should be viewed with a skeptical eye.”

I’m actually rather skeptical on this myself, given that prominent members of Congress have claimed such nonsense as that abortion is 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does. But, given the sensitivities on this issue, I’m surprised the organization hasn’t put a firewall between its abortion and other activities to avoid this sort of scrutiny.

UPDATE: An informed source tells me that Americans United for Life‘s recent special report, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” provided the impetus for Stearns’ inquiry.

The group has put out a letter praising the move:

Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called the news that Rep. Cliff Stearns of the House Energy and Commerce Committee would be subpoenaing records from Planned Parenthood as part of an investigation into the abortion mega-provider “a historic first step in getting the American taxpayer out of the business of subsidizing abortion.”

Following news of a letter from Rep. Stearns to Planned Parenthood, as well as a letter from ranking member Henry Waxman opposing the investigation, Dr. Yoest made the following statement:

“AUL welcomes the news that Congress is investigating the abortion mega-provider Planned Parenthood for financial improprieties and its poor handling of the public trust. AUL’s groundbreaking report on Planned Parenthood released this summer outlines a template for investigators and provides extensive information on the abortion giant. The American taxpayer does not want to be in the business of abortion, and this investigation is an important first step toward ending public funding of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

I’ve run into Yoest and her husband, Jack, at CPAC and other events and have found them to be bright, likable folks. Charmaine has her PhD in politics from UVA and served in the Reagan Administration. She’s a much better face for the movement than the ranting loons usually seen on TV representing the pro life agenda.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    Stearns likes a good fishing expedition.

  2. Rob in CT says:

    GOP congresscritters going after Planned Parenthood? How surprising.

  3. Hey Norm says:

    But let’s be clear…the so-called republicans are not waging Class Warfare.

  4. WR says:

    Congress is not investigating Planned Parenthood. Republicans in Congress are harassing Planned Parenthood. There is a difference.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @WR: The Republicans have a majority in the House and therefore chair its committees and subcommittees and wield the concomitant investigative powers. So, the chairman of a committee launching an investigation and Congress launching said investigation is a distinction without meaning.

  6. MKS says:

    Planned Parenthood receives $350,000,000 of taxpayer money annually, in addition to corporate contributions. Congress wants to know how the taxpayers’ money is being spent. I call that fiscal responsibility, and hope that Congress practices fiscal responsibility in increasing measure as the years go by.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MKS:

    Congress wants to know how the taxpayers’ money is being spent. I call that fiscal responsibility,

    And the sun rises in the west.

    Tell me MKS, were you so focused on “fiscal responsibility” when W was in office???

    I thought not. (and no, if you voted GOP in ’02, .’04, ’06, ’08 or ’10, you can not claim “fiscal responsibility”… You assh*les were given a balanced budget in ’00… you blew it…. and have done NOTHING to change that fact.)

  8. TBogg says:

    Someone should investigate non-profit AUL and look into the “business seminars” they hosted to benefit Yoest’s husband.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Planned Parenthood receives $350,000,000 of taxpayer money annually, in addition to corporate contributions. Congress wants to know how the taxpayers’ money is being spent. I call that fiscal responsibility, and hope that Congress practices fiscal responsibility in increasing measure as the years go by.

    And it’s just total coincidence that this happens to be an industry the right hates with a fiery passion and has spent millions of dollars to attack harass and lie about over the last three decades?

    No.

    Frankly if you were looking for an industry that badly needs to be audited you wouldn’t go first (or even fifth) to PP, you’d go to the Blackwaters and the Lockheeds, That’s where the big money is, not to mention the unbelievable levels of graft. Blackwater alone in just one contract got 250,000,000 from the government (http://www.thenation.com/blog/36756/blackwaters-new-sugar-daddy-obama-administration). One (notoriously corrupt and even criminal) organization got almost as much as all of PP for just one contract.

    But fiscal responsibility requires us to persecute the abortion providers. Pull the other one.

  10. WR says:

    @James Joyner: The distinction WITH a difference is that an investigation is a process meant to discover facts. This is an attempt to harass PP in order to make it more difficult to do their jobs. There’s no intent to discover any truths, just to do harm to an organization they despise.

  11. Sam says:

    Anyone whining about this is a fool!

    ANY entity that receives TAXPAYER dollars should WELCOME a government audit that would show the entity spending the taxpayers money in a responsible and legal way.
    Any criticism of THIS group being effectively audited only shows pure emotional partisanship which has no place in looking at the spending of taxpayer money!

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Sam: Emotional partisanship? Let’s see what that looks like:

    Anyone whining about this is a fool!

    Exclamation point- emotionalism check

    ANY entity that receives TAXPAYER dollars should WELCOME a government audit that would show the entity spending the taxpayers money in a responsible and legal way.

    Multiple words in all caps – emotionalism check

    Any criticism of THIS group being effectively audited only shows pure emotional partisanship which has no place in looking at the spending of taxpayer money!

    Words in caps and another exclamation point – double emotionalism check.

    So Sam is by far the most emotional and irrational person here. The math doesn’t lie.

    P.S. Has anyone else noticed the terms emotional partisan/emotionalism have suddenly become buzzwords among the radical right trolls here at OTB? Did a new talking points memo go out?

  13. Franklin says:

    @Tlaloc: I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with auditing the whole lot of them, PP included if there’s some evidence that they’ve misappropriated federal funds.

  14. Sam says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Sorry my TYPING does not meet you low standards.

    The story is not about ME as much as you seem to want to make it. And not being a psychiatrist I will not attempt to psycho analyze you (even though many could write a paper on that session) as you have attempted with me.

    Get to the point and not to the emotional baggage you seem to have.

  15. Ben Wolf says:

    @Sam: The Emotional One continues his hormonal jihad:

    Sorry my TYPING does not meet you low standards.

    Brittle radical right ego – check

    The story is not about ME as much as you seem to want to make it.

    He writes this after accusing anyone who disagrees with him of being “emotional partisans”.
    Complete self-absorption – check

    Get to the point and not to the emotional baggage you seem to have.

    At this point one must conclude Sam types while looking in a mirror.
    Projcection and hysteria – check

    Radical right emotion meter: +1,000

  16. Sam says:

    Commenter has been banned yet again.