Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Planned Parenthood

Political leanings: Liberal

Spending target: $20 million

Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health care to women nationwide. It offers a variety of services, including abortions, birth control, emergency contraception, general health testing and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

Although a tax-exempt, nonprofit, Planned Parenthood is involved in federal campaigns through three national committees: the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(4), a social welfare organization that is allowed to engage in some political activity; Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC, which is a political action committee registered with the Federal Election Commission; and Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC also registered with the FEC. 

Planned Parenthood also had several state-specific committees that were active in key Senate races in the last campaign cycle, including in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund has been run for years by Cecile Richards, who announced in February that she will step down as president in May. Its board is chaired by Urvashi Vaid. Vaid is the CEO of The Vaid Group, a firm that provides strategy services on equity and justice issues.

Combined, Planned Parenthood’s three national political committees spent nearly $25 million during the 2016 campaign.

Planned Parenthood Votes raised and spent about $22 million in the last election cycle, according to the FEC. It made $12.6 million in independent expenditures — nearly all of it in support of Democrats or opposed to Republicans, including $2.8 million to oppose Donald Trump and $2.4 million to support Hillary Clinton, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Members of the Soros family were major donors to Planned Parenthood Votes, giving a combined $4.75 million. Billionaire George Soros, a big contributor to liberal causes, donated $1.5 million; his daughter, Andrea Soros Colombel, gave $1.25 million; his son, Jonathan, and his son’s wife, Jennifer, each gave $1 million. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, also contributed $1 million.

In 2018, the top donors to Planned Parenthood Votes include retired publisher Richard Rosenthal, who has donated $2.1 million, real estate heiress Amy Goldman Fowler, who has given $2 million, and Andrea Soros Colombel, who has donated $1.5 million.

Separately, Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC spent about $1.2 million on political donations in 2016, according to the FEC. It made a little more than $670,000 in contributions to federal candidates, and all but $5,000 of it went to Democrats, the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis shows. Unlike its sister super PAC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC is a regular PAC that is limited in how much it can raise from individuals ($5,000) and contribute to candidate committees ($2,700 per election).

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is not required to disclose its donors. However, it does have to detail its independent expenditures on TV ads and other forms of political communication in favor of or against candidates.

The nonprofit spent $1.3 million on independent expenditures in 2016, according to the FEC. Nearly half of that money went to support Clinton ($365,000) and oppose Trump ($247,000), the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis shows. It also spent money to support the Democratic Senate candidates in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Republicans won both races.

In this campaign cycle, Planned Parenthood Action Fund has spent nearly $1.5 million on independent expenditures — much of that in the 2017 special election to fill a House seat in Georgia left vacant by former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. It spent more than $750,000 to support Democrat Jon Ossoff, who lost to Karen Handel. It also has spent nearly $250,000 in support of Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, a former Planned Parenthood executive who was appointed to the Senate after Al Franken resigned his seat. Smith is running for a full term in the November election.

Planned Parenthood’s committees plan to be active in 2018. In March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes said they aim to spend $20 million in eight states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In addition to spending directly on races and contributing to candidates, Planned Parenthood Votes announced in April that it will participate in a $30 million campaign to increase voter turnout among infrequent voters in Nevada, Florida and Michigan.