Attorney: Probe Planned Parenthood Over Tax-Funding, Fraud

National   Steven Ertelt   Sep 30, 2011   |   11:46AM    Washington, DC

A leading pro-life attorney who has experience battling Planned Parenthood over taxpayer funding and Medicaid fraud says those are two great issues that should compel Congress to move ahead with the investigation a congressman has announced.

Jay Sekulow, the chief attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), says “For years, we have been pursuing Planned Parenthood – challenging them in court,” and he finds it “encouraging that Congress is now taking a close look at the nation’s largest abortion provider, with an eye toward investigating how Planned Parenthood spends federal taxpayer funds.”

In a September 15 letter LifeNews.com obtained, Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, writes to Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.

The 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. 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.

“We’re delighted the Congress wants to take a closer look,” Sekulow says. “After all, Planned Parenthood received more than $363 million dollars from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009 from federal, state or local grants and contracts. That represented about one-third of the organization’s total revenue of more than $ 1 billion during that period.”

“Of course, Planned Parenthood claims none of the tax funds it receives go directly toward funding abortions. But the fact is that by receiving such a huge taxpayer windfall, additional funds are freed up for Planned Parenthood to use for abortions,” Sekulow added.

The new probe of the abortion giant comes as the ACLJ has been moving forward with its lawsuit challenging Planned Parenthood in a massive fraud case in California.

“”As you may recall, we achieved a major victory in 2010 when a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood after a lower court dismissed it,” Sekulow said. “At the heart of the issue: an alleged scheme to overbill both federal and state governments to the tune of tens of millions of dollars – all at the expense of taxpayers. We represent a whistleblower, the former Chief Financial Officer of PP’s Los Angeles affiliate, who discovered a statewide scheme of PP affiliates dramatically marking up claims for taxpayer reimbursement. The complaint charges PP with bilking the state and federal governments of some $100 million.”

“In that case, we have just filed our opposition to Planned Parenthood’s fourth motion to dismiss the case. This week, we filed legal arguments opposing this new motion to dismiss the case describing Planned Parenthood’s arguments as “plainly meritless” and “improper.” In our legal memo filed with the court, we argued: “It is time to advance to discovery and to resolution of this matter.” A hearing on that motion is scheduled for mid-October in federal district court in Los Angeles,” Sekulow explains.

“As you can imagine, this type of litigation requires considerable time, effort, and legal expertise, not to mention strategic sophistication. Planned Parenthood has a lot at stake and is not about to roll over,” Sekulow added.

The ACLJ has also filed a brief defending the state of Indiana in its bid to keep its law de-funding Planned Parenthood in place.

“We represent 41 members of Congress and more than 25,000 Americans in this brief which has been filed in a federal appeals court,” Sekulow said.

Several Democrats have condemned the investigation along with the new chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, of the Democratic Party, who also condemned the investigation.

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.

Planned Parenthood has retained a prominent law firm to respond to the new investigation. 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.”

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