Planned Parenthood affiliates improperly applied for and received $80 million in coronavirus stimulus funds, feds say; GOP calls for probe

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EXCLUSIVE: Thirty-seven Planned Parenthood affiliates applied for and received a total of $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” has learned — and now the federal government wants the money back, saying the affiliates should have known they weren’t eligible for the coronavirus stimulus payouts.

After this report was published, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., called for an immediate investigation, warning that criminal prosecution may be appropriate.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is reaching out to each involved Planned Parenthood affiliate explaining that affiliates of larger organizations with more than 500 employees aren’t eligible for PPP distributions, Fox News is told. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PFFA) alone has had more than 600 employees.

A Planned Parenthood affiliate in Metropolitan Washington (PPMW), for example, will receive a letter stating that although self-certified that it was eligible for a $1,328,000 PPP loan in accordance with the SBA’s affiliation rules, it will need to return the money.

PPMW’s request for money from the Trump administration came just months after the affiliate’s president and CEO, Laura Meyers, promised to turn down federal funds.

“Planned Parenthood is never going to allow the Trump-Pence administration to bully us into withholding critical health information from our patients,” Meyers said last August, after the White House banned Planned Parenthood clinics from making abortion referrals if they wanted to continue receiving federal funds. At the time, Planned Parenthood vowed to give up federal funds entirely, rather than comply with the order.

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FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

FILE – In this June 4, 2019, file photo, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

The SBA warned more “severe penalties” were possible, beyond mandatory repayment. In particular, incorrect or false eligibility certifications by PPP recipients could result in criminal or civil sanctions if the SBA determined borrowers made knowingly false statements, the SBA letter read.

The letter explained that PPFA affiliates clearly were covered by the PPP affiliate rules. “PPFA’s bylaws, a version of which is publicly available, reveal that becoming a PPFA affiliate requires a certification by the PPFA board,” the document continued. “Once certified, “[e]ach Affiliate shall be governed by written bylaws, which conform to PPFA poliices.”

The largest single government loan was a $7.5 million allotment to the Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties in California. One Planned Parenthood affiliate received a loan but declined it.

Rubio, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said Planned Parenthood’s violation of PPP rules was “clear.”

“There is no ambiguity in the legislation that passed or public record around its passage that organizations such as Planned Parenthood, whose parent organization has close to half a billion dollars in assets, is not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program,” Rubio said. “Those funds must be returned immediately. Furthermore, the SBA should open an investigation into how these loans were made in clear violation of the applicable affiliation rules and if Planned Parenthood, the banks, or staff at the SBA knowingly violated the law, all appropriate legal options should be pursued.”

Later Tuesday evening, Hawley tweeted: “The money needs to be recovered and if anybody knowingly falsified applications, they need to be prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life nonprofit, separately highlighted Planned Parenthood’s role as an abortion provider.

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“Across the country, Planned Parenthood refused to cease its abortion operation in wake of the pandemic, hoarding personal protective equipment and putting its staff and women at risk,” a spokesperson for the SBA List told Fox News.

“It is rich that they, in turn, feel entitled to taxpayer dollars meant to help businesses in need,” the spokesperson continued. “After decades of feeding at the taxpayer’s trough while running the nation’s largest abortion operation, they have over a billion dollars in net assets. They should return this funding immediately. We thank President Trump for his strong commitment to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and abortionists like Planned Parenthood.”

This past January, Planned Parenthood reported a record-high number of abortions and government funding. Planned Parenthood affiliates claimed to have performed 345,672 abortions from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.

Pro-life demonstrators hold signs while marching past the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Jan. 18, 2019. People from around the nation gathered in Washington D.C. today for the annual rally against abortion, which included a video message from President Trump and an address by Vice President Mike Pence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pro-life demonstrators hold signs while marching past the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Jan. 18, 2019. People from around the nation gathered in Washington D.C. today for the annual rally against abortion, which included a video message from President Trump and an address by Vice President Mike Pence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the same time, Planned Parenthood claimed abortion constituted just a small percentage – 4 percent in 2018-2019 – of its services, and that federal funds didn’t go directly to abortions.

Some 98 percent of PPP loans have been less than $1 million; the program has provided an average loan of $118,000. Canceled or returned funds can be used during future PPP rounds.

Republicans have strongly resisted reported efforts from some Democrats to push abortion-related spending amid the pandemic. In March, The Daily Caller reported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tried to include federal funding for abortion in the coronavirus stimulus bill.

Multiple senior White House officials told the oulet that speaking to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Pelosi sought a provision for up to $1 billion to “reimburse laboratory claims.”

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That might set a precedent for health-related spending without the protections of the Hyde Amendment, a compromise restricting federal funds for abortion in most cases.

“A new mandatory funding stream that does not have Hyde protections would be unprecedented,” a White House official said. “Under the guise of protecting people, Speaker Pelosi is working to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent covering abortion — which is not only backwards, but goes against historical norms.”

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