abortion / Catholic / Prolife

Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood: What to expect

[Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Jill Stanek. It originally appeared on her blog and is reposted with permission.]

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Yesterday came the welcome news that a congressional committee has launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood.

Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns (pictured right), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (under the Energy & Commerce Committee), had been threatening a probe for months, particularly after Americans United for Life released a damning report in July documenting decades of malfeasance by the United States’ largest abortion provider.

Stearns followed through and on September 15  issued a letter to Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards
requesting 12 years’ worth of financial records, state audits, and
policies from both Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its 83
affiliates, to be handed over “within two weeks of the date of this
letter,” or by tomorrow, September 29.

to the letter, Stearns’ committee will investigate improper billing and
overbilling by PP affiliates to the government; comingling of
government funds intended for Titles X and XIX with
PP’s abortion operations, which would be illegal; and PP’s policies and
procedures for reporting sex abuse and trafficking to authorities.

AUL’s report documented that PP affiliates have indeed been caught
overbilling, failing to report minor sex abuse, and failing to comply
with parental involvement laws, to name just three infractions of many.
PP got its PR ducks in a row before announcing news of the investigation, obviously alerting Washington Post pro-abort go-to reporter Sarah Kliff and readying Democrat pro-abort Congressman Henry Waxman’s protest letter for simultaneous release with its own press statement. Note the timing…

I spoke with Charmaine Yoest, president of AUL, and
asked what to expect next. She said PP could take one of four actions:
1) provide only undamaging, incomplete information; 2) provide massive
amounts of material that would take years to wade through and hope no
one finds any ugly details; 3) stonewall – ask for more time; 4) provide
accurate information.

#3, stonewalling appears unlikely, because it would make the
organization look like it has something to hide. In fact PP wrote in its
statement it “is responding to the request in a timely manner.”

#2, providing TMI, would also seem unlikely, because even if handing
over needles in a haystack to the government, PP would still be handing
them over.

#1 or #2 are most likely. Planned Parenthood is legally obligated to respond to Stearns’ subpoenas.

Then what?

Stearns’ staff will investigate PP’s paperwork and issue a public
report. They can put all of PP’s submitted information in the report,
making it public. If they find a smoking gun or guns, they can follow up
with hearings.

Examining subpoenaed documents is precisely how Solyndra was exposed – by this same committee. From ABC News, September 13:

The emails were uncovered by investigators for the House
Energy and Commerce Committee, which will hold hearings on the Solyndra
loan Wednesday. The Republican-led House has been investigating the
Obama administration’s green energy loan program for months…. Last week,
the FBI raided the factory….

Finding damaging information PP’s top-notch attorneys may attempt to
hide will depend on how good Stearns’ staff is.  I asked Charmaine if
Stearns can ask outside organizations that are PP-savvy to examine PP’s
documents, such as AUL or American Life League’s STOPP. She said it is totally legal and acceptable for a congressional committee to request investigatory help from outside experts.

I hope Congressman Stearns does so. I think he will. He was brave
going into this, knowing the other side would malign him with both
barrels. I expect he will want to do all he can to find as much evidence
as possible of PP’s wrong-doing.

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