Did Planned Parenthood knowingly defraud the Small Business Administration by having 37 affiliates acquire $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program? A letter from 27 Senate Republicans to the Department of Justice lay out a case against the abortion chain, arguing that not only did the PPP disqualify Planned Parenthood from the program, the company complained publicly about the exclusion. That makes a prima facie case for criminal fraud, they argue, in a letter first published by National Review’s Alexandra de Sanctis:
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.”
The exclusion was part of Treasury’s final rules on the first tranche of the program, the letter points out, and was explicit in its limitations:
The implementing interim final rule, issued by the SBA on April 15, 2020, explicitly stated that the SBA’s affiliation rules apply to the new Paycheck Protection Program, which excludes organizations like Planned Parenthood that employ its type of governance and affiliation structure and exceed the cap on total employees. Trump administration officials were also quoted in public reports, explicitly clarifying that the SBA’s interim final rule ensured that no funds from the Paycheck Protection Program could go to Planned Parenthood.
Furthermore, the letter footnotes the public statements of both the Trump administration and Planned Parenthood citing these exclusion’s applicability to the nation’s largest abortion chain. The White House hardly made it a secret, as The Daily Signal reported in late April:
The Trump administration has acted to ensure that no funds from the new Paycheck Protection Program, set up to assist small businesses battered by COVID-19, will go to Planned Parenthood.
“President Trump is committed to ensuring Paycheck Protection Program money is used for saving jobs at small businesses, not getting the government into the business of funding abortion,” a senior administration official told The Daily Signal.
“While not all Americans share President Trump’s pro-life beliefs, there is broad bipartisan support for the idea that American taxpayers should not have to fund abortion,” the official said Wednesday night.
A month before that, Planned Parenthood complained that the CARES Act in which PPP was authorized gave SBA “broad discretion to exclude” their affiliates:
While the legislation includes some much-needed health care resources and economic relief, the Trump administration and Republican Congressional leadership once again used this must-pass relief bill to advance their anti-abortion agenda. 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 addition, the bill attaches a new unnecessary Hyde Amendment provision, a harmful policy that prevents people with low incomes from accessing safe and legal abortion coverage, to a state stabilization fund for providing coronavirus relief.
The letter doesn’t touch on another aspect of fraud in these loan applications, which is that these employees weren’t at risk in the first place. The number of these affiliates that closed their doors in shutdown orders could be counted on one hand, and Planned Parenthood fought in court to get them classified as an essential service so they could reopen. Unlike restaurants, salons, and other small businesses who were forced to close, these clinics remained open for business and had their usual cash flow in place.
So what did that cash actually fund? The abortions themselves, of course, along with Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. They raided a fund meant for small businesses who couldn’t keep payroll flowing because the government had forced them to close, and raid they did — averaging more than $2 million per affiliate when the average PPP loan was closer to $100,000. It’s a grotesque exploitation of an emergency fund in a national emergency.
Is it fraud in a criminal sense? Perhaps, but it is at the least fraud in a moral sense. Will all of the same voices and media outlets that (rightly) scolded Steak Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House point their fingers publicly at Planned Parenthood for their own slimy acts here? Don’t hold your breath.