Planned Parenthood Hires Lawyer for Congressional Probe

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 28, 2011   |   4:31PM   |   Washington, DC

Planned Parenthood has retained a prominent law firm to respond to the new congressional investigation a House committee has launched into its alleged financial improprieties and potential coverup of potentially criminal actions.

As LifeNews first reported, Congressman Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, said a committee he chairs will take the first steps in investigating the Planned Parenthood abortion business over abuses ranging from financial disparities to its compliance with federal regulations on taxpayer funding to concerns that it is covering up cases of sex trafficking.

In a September 15 letter obtained, Stearns, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote to Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. The letter asks Richards to comply with current federal regulations and legal obligations by providing Congress with a wide range of documents within two weeks of the date of the letter.

The abortion business has retained lawyers from Hogan Lovells and, according to the Legal Times, Hogan Lovells partner E. Desmond Hogan and counsel Reid Stuntz will handle the investigation. Both attorneys have been intimately involved in congressional investigations and Stuntz, according to a profile on the law firm’s website, was the chief counsel of Stearns’ committee when pro-abortion Democrat John Dingell of Michigan was the chairman.

Meanwhile, Roger Evans, the director of public policy litigation for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Legal Times in a phone interview that the abortion business will comply with the committee’s request for documents.

“This is the first time someone has said, ‘I’m going to investigate the organization,’” he said, adding that the abortion business has asked for and received a two-week extension. Steanrs’ letter had him asking for documents by September 29.

“Our response will be to work with the committee to be sure they have whatever information they need to complete the request and to do so in as timely a fashion as we are able,” Evans said. “I think any objective observer will realize there is no genuine problem here.”

In a fundraising email Richards sent to the pro-abortion activists who support Planned Parenthood, she aggressively went after Stearns, calling his attempt to hold the abortion business accountable “harassment” and “intimidation.”

Stearns’ letter requests any information related to improper billing related to federally-funded programs, proof that federal funds are not being improperly used to pay for abortions by PPFA or its affiliates, audits by state agencies of any Planned Parenthood affiliate, and documentation of how many affiliates currently receive Title X family planning funding. [related]

“Please provide all internal audit reports conducted by PPFA and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010. If not clearly indicated in the audit reports, please detail how much PPFA and each affiliate expended and received in Title XIX Medicaid funding, Title X family planning, and any other federal funding,” the letter says.

The Stearns letter also requests documents on standards and practices related to billing issues, written policies and procedures, and it requests information on how the abortion giant keeps its family planning abortion monies separate and segregated.

Planned Parenthood has come under heavy criticism in recent years for covering up cases of statutory rape by failing to report abortions done on unborn children of teen girls who have been victimized to authorities and by aiding and assisting alleged sex traffickers in obtaining abortions and other “services” for the women and girls they victimize. As such, as the Stearns letter asks for information related to those concerns.

“Please provide a summary of how PPFA detects criminal conduct and the policies and procedures in place to prevent it or report it,” the letter reads. “Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that all Planned Parenthood clinics report all cases of suspected sexual abuse, including statutory rape, to proper authorities.”

“Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that suspected sex trafficking is reported to the proper authorities,” it adds.

The letter follows a request from AUL, members of Congress, and other pro-life groups urging an investigation. Americans United for Life issued a report featuring a groundbreaking analysis of the nation’s largest abortion business and saying it has uncovered evidence of systemic financial irregularities within the abortion giant, which receives more than $363 million in federal and state taxpayer funding, and that Congress should investigate.

AUL staff combed through 20 years of Planned Parenthood financial data and the report documents the known and alleged abuses by Planned Parenthood, including the misuse of federal health care and family planning funds, failure to report criminal child sexual abuse, failure to comply with parental involvement laws, assisting those engaged in prostitution and/or sex trafficking, and dangerous misuse of the abortion drug RU-486.

Stearns later told Americans United for Life more about his feelings on the matter of Planned Parenthood, saying, “Taxpayers deserve accountability, and the report prepared by Americans United for Life demonstrates egregious abuses of taxpayer funds by Planned Parenthood. The legal team at Americans United for Life reviewed two decades of reports, audits, and financial statements regarding Planned Parenthood.”

“The report outlines Planned Parenthood’s record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws, and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages to circumvent state reporting laws. They also found as government funding of Planned Parenthood rises, so does the number of abortions. They found repeated instances of overbilling government health care programs,” he added.

Two top pro-abortion Democrats released their own letter condemning the investigation, while pro-life groups applauded it.