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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Planned Parenthood and the Democrats

The president of Planned Parenthood says the group is willing to talk to Republicans about threats to its federal funding “because [at] Planned Parenthood, we’re nonpartisan.” In fact, the group’s political action committee gave 98 percent of its campaign contributions in the 2016 election to Democrats.

The group’s president, Cecile Richards, also spoke at the Democratic National Convention in support of the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. “Let’s go win this election!” she told Democrats.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., receives federal funding for health care services, but that funding is in jeopardy. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced last month that the House would move to defund Planned Parenthood as part of legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Planned Parenthood’s funding has long been a target of Republicans over the group’s abortion services. As we have noted before, the Hyde Amendment limits federal funding to only abortion cases involving rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother. Abortions accounted for about 3 percent of the group’s total of nearly 9.5 million services in fiscal year 2014, according to its annual report. Most of its health services were for contraception, treatment and tests for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services.

Richards touted the group’s nonpartisan status during a Feb. 2 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Mika Brzezinski, the show’s co-host, asked Richards about the threat of losing federal funding, and whether the group was willing to negotiate with Republican President Donald Trump’s administration.

Brzezinski, Feb. 2: But you realize you have to cut a deal of some sort with this new administration in some way? Would you come to the table?

Richards: We’re always at the table. I mean we talk to everybody. I mean because Planned Parenthood, we’re nonpartisan.

Richards is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., which is a tax-exempt corporation under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and prohibited from political activities and making campaign contributions. She is also the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is the political arm of PPFA. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is registered as a 501(c)(4), which is a social welfare organization that is allowed to engage in political activity.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC, which is registered with the Federal Election Commission, contributed about $694,000 to congressional candidates in the 2016 cycle, and 98 percent of that went to Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal campaign contributions.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC

2015-16 Contributions to Congressional Candidates

Democrats Republicans
House $533,989 $10,000
Senate $147,690 $2,500
Total $681,679 $12,500

The group also contributed $9,613 to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Richards, as we mention, spoke in support of Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. The daughter of former Democratic Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Cecile Richards told Democrats at the convention how proud her mother would be to see a woman elected president.

Richards, July 26, 2016: Tonight, we are closer than ever to putting a woman in the White House. And I can almost hear mom saying, “Well, it sure took y’all long enough.” So what do you say? Are you ready to make history? Let’s go win this election.

Richards’ support for Clinton and the PAC’s contributions to Democrats is not surprising given that many congressional Republicans oppose abortion rights and seek to defund Planned Parenthood. And we understand the point that Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a nonpartisan provider of health care services. But the group’s leader and its PAC are not nonpartisan.