This morning, Republican senators — including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) — sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, calling on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood for improperly claiming coronavirus-relief loans designed for small businesses. The letter was spearheaded by Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and signed by more than two dozen GOP senators.
Earlier this week, news broke that dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates had applied for and received a total of about $80 million in forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by the CARES Act for small-business relief, despite the fact that Congress explicitly excluded nonprofit organizations set up as affiliates — large, nonprofit organizations such as Planned Parenthood — from applying for that funding.
Based on its most recent financial report, Planned Parenthood had total net assets close to $2 billion and total revenue of about $1.7 billion last fiscal year. The group operates hundreds of clinics across the country, organized into dozens of affiliates, and employs about 16,000 workers, far exceeding the 500-employee cap applied to the small-business loan program.
According to this letter, a copy of which was provided exclusively to National Review, more than two dozen GOP senators want Barr to investigate and prosecute “those who would fraudulently steal millions of dollars in taxpayer funds during this pandemic.”
“These Planned Parenthood entities self-certified eligibility for these loans despite the clear ineligibility under the statutory text of [CARES Act],” the senators write. “It was also well-publicized at the time that the CARES Act did not allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to utilize these loans.” They point out that Trump-administration officials publicly clarified that the affiliate restriction meant no funds from the PPP could go to Planned Parenthood.
Despite that, dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates applied for these loans, and 37 received them. The letter demonstrates that Planned Parenthood executives themselves appeared aware that the program excluded them from applying for the loans: “Most damningly, Planned Parenthood’s own political action committee, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, issued a statement on the CARES Act after the Act’s passage in the Senate, saying: ‘The bill gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates and other non-profits serving people with low incomes and deny them benefits under the new small business loan program.’”
In other words, the organization publicly acknowledged that it was excluded from the loan program, and complained about that fact, just before dozens of its affiliates self-certified as eligible for the loans and claimed them.
“Based on these statements, it seems clear that Planned Parenthood knew that it was ineligible for the small business loans under the CARES Act long before its affiliates fraudulently self-certified that they were eligible,” the senators continue. “As you know, fraudulent loan applications can trigger both civil and criminal penalties.”
The letter concludes by stating that the PPP was designed to assist small businesses and nonprofits in meeting payroll and retaining their employees during the COVID-19 shutdowns. “It was not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood,” the senators write. “Planned Parenthood fraudulently taking tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help keep those small businesses and nonprofit organizations afloat cannot stand and must be addressed.”
The letter was signed by Cotton and McConnell, along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Bill Cassidy (La.), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Mike Enzi (Wy.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John Kennedy (La.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Kelly Loeffler (Ga.), David Perdue (Ga.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), John Thune (S.D.), and Todd Young (Ind.).
Read the full text of the letter here.
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated since its initial publication.