Chaffetz: Planned Parenthood spent $40M in travel, parties, office

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz unearthed a pretty big nugget on Tuesday when he revealed Planned Parenthood spent $40M on travel, parties, and office space. The Hill has a round up of Chaffetz’ report released during a House Overnight and Government Reform Committee hearing (emphasis mine).

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Tuesday accused the organization of racking up “exorbitant travel expenses,” including first-class flights, charter travel and entertainment costs that included $622,706 on “blowout parties” with celebrity guests…

Some of the themed parties had names such as “Gathering of Goddesses and Gods,” “Chocolate Champagne” and “Murder Mystery,” according to a report released by the committee during the hearing Tuesday…

The committee’s report also noted Planned Parenthood’s real estate holdings, including $34.8 million for its corporate office space near Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2011. In 2015, it sold a 72,000 square-foot condominium to Brookfield Property Partners for $69.6 million.

That’s a LOT of money and it shows Planned Parenthood has some pretty good financial advisers to boot. There’s something else the hearing showed, which was Planned Parenthood would have plenty of money even if all their federal cash was suddenly cut off. Planned Parenthood gets about $700B in nongovernmental funds, and Legal Insurrection’s Kemberlee Kaye found they do a nice job at keeping expenses low.

Not helping their give us ALL the tax money case was the revelation that Planned Parenthood raised $127 million over their expenditures last year. When asked how the $127 million was spent, Richards stammered, began listing expenses until she was corrected, and struggled as she attempted to explain how the organization spent their multi-million-dollar overage.

Unfortunately, the narrative from the left on the hearing will be the rapid-fire exchange between Chaffetz and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards on how much she makes in a year. Here’s Talking Points Memo’s YouTube video of the questioning, under the ominous title of “Rep. Jason Chaffetz Repeatedly Interrupts Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards.”

The Huffington Post is also pushing the “Chaffetz was mean to Richards!” narrative, especially after New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney accused Chaffetz of “beating up on a woman.” But this isn’t the case. Anyone who’s ever watched Chaffetz when he gets rolling knows he will keep pressing a point regardless of the sex of the person he’s questioning. Check out his questioning of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen last year.

If anything, Chaffetz is showing how much he respects Richards by treating her exactly like he’d treat any other person. But that’s not what the left is going to push because they’re not interested in talking about respect, they just want to make it seem like Chaffetz hates women. Which is ridiculous because Chaffetz was trying to prove how much Planned Parenthood actually wastes government funding by paying Richards over $500k a year. If Planned Parenthood were a private organization, which didn’t get $528.4M in funding from the government, it’s doubtful Chaffetz would push this so hard.

The bigger question in all this is whether or not the government should be involved in health care at all. Guttmacher Institute reported in 2012 the federal government spent over $2B on family planning client services in FY2010. Most of the cash comes from Medicaid, but the rest came from the Title X Family Planning Program. So is there a way for the government to do entitlement reform? Yes, but it won’t be easy. Congress’ decision to target Planned Parenthood for defunding isn’t a bad idea, but the government should be willing to take the next step and defund all medical programs. States do contribute to family planning and women’s health organizations so there’s nothing stopping them from doing it either, although it might not be fiscally sound. It’s going to be more difficult to get the federal government out of health care with Obamacare, Medicaid, and Title X (the latter two have been around for over four decades), but it’s something Congress should consider. The way the debt keeps rising, the tipping point’s gotta happen at some point, right?

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