Nearly a year after Planned Parenthood came under fire for snatching up federal coronavirus relief meant for small businesses, the nation’s largest abortion provider continues to receive millions of dollars in emergency pandemic aid.
Last spring, local Planned Parenthood affiliates masqueraded as small businesses to apply for stimulus relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), launched last year as part of the Trump administration’s $1.9 trillion CARES Act.
In 2020, Planned Parenthood affiliates in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia were awarded a total of about $80 million in PPP relief. Most of that relief was granted toward the beginning of the pandemic in April or May, when the country was weathering the strictest lockdowns.
The mammoth nonprofit’s emergency cash bonanza prompted an uproar from critics who argued that Planned Parenthood’s individual centers should not be eligible for pandemic relief dollars intended to keep small businesses afloat. The sprawling abortion provider has more than 5,000 employees nationwide and performed nearly 355,000 abortions in fiscal year 2019, according to its last annual report. The organization received more than $618 million in taxpayer funding over that period and had a revenue excess of $69.7 million, as well as more than $2 billion in assets.
Under the Biden administration, some Planned Parenthood affiliates have been approved for millions of dollars in new PPP loans, including some branches that already received emergency funding last year, according to data from ProPublica.
Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, a cluster of six centers in the Portland area, was approved in February for $2 million in PPP funds. Last year in April, the group received more than $2.6 million in PPP relief.
Planned Parenthood of Montana, which includes the state’s five locations, received more than $1.2 million last month through the relief program. In 2020, the Montana affiliates received even more PPP funding to the tune of $1.3 million.
Planned Parenthood of Maryland, encompassing the abortion provider’s seven locations across the state, was awarded a $1.6 million PPP loan that was approved last month. The Maryland locations received $1.7 million last year.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, which operates 25 affiliates throughout Texas, was approved for $1.9 million in PPP funds last month.
Even the California Planned Parenthood Education Fund, an advocacy and legal arm that pushes for abortion rights in California, received $418,000 in relief from the federal program.
One of the largest dollar amounts the federal relief program doled out last year was a whopping $4.4 million to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which operates centers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Las Vegas. The PPP gave another $3.9 million to Planned Parenthood of Illinois last April and $3.5 million to Planned Parenthood of Southern New England the next month.
Businesses are eligible to have their PPP loans fully forgiven as long as they meet a few criteria, including not laying off employees or slashing compensation and spending at least 60 percent of the loan money on payroll. Only businesses with 500 or fewer employees, including all their affiliates, are eligible for the funds.
Last spring, congressional Republicans called on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to investigate local Planned Parenthood affiliates over their relief applications and demanded the affiliates return the $80 million they received in 2020. The lawmakers also requested the SBA pursue “appropriate penalties” against Planned Parenthood branches that “broke the law,” arguing that the group’s national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “jealously exercises control over local affiliates.”
The SBA ended up ordering dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates to return their PPP loan money, but only seven of the 38 affiliates that received loans have reportedly complied.
Last month, 25 GOP senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeated their call for an investigation in a letter to SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman.
“It is unconscionable that SBA continues to approve PPP loans made to organizations which are clearly ineligible for funding,” the senators wrote. “This is unacceptable.”
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