‘They were ineligible’: Senators urge Barr to investigate Planned Parenthood over PPP loans

More than two dozen Republican senators are urging U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate numerous Planned Parenthood facilities over their acceptance of Paycheck Protection Program funds.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the group led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) explain that the organization was ineligible for the loans, which were approved to help keep small businesses funded through the coronavirus shutdown.

“We write to urge you to investigate the activities of dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates that reportedly applied for and received approximately $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, despite actual knowledge that they were ineligible for such loans,” the letter stated.

“Civil and criminal penalties”

Though the organization exceeds the 500-employee limit for qualification, its affiliate locations reportedly applied based on their individual staffs.

Several other major chains across the country have already returned PPP funds received under similar circumstances.

The Small Business Association closed a loophole last month that had allowed those earlier loans, making Planned Parenthood ineligible.

“The implementing interim final rule, issued by the SBA on April 15, 2020, explicitly stated that the SBA’s affiliation rules apply to the new Paycheck Protection Program, which excludes organizations like Planned Parenthood that employ its type of governance and affiliation structure and exceed the cap on total employees,” the senators wrote.

Further explaining their position, the senators wrote that Planned Parenthood could face “civil and criminal penalties” for fraudulent loan applications.

“To advance a political agenda”

Though the letter does not mention the abortion services provided by the organization, a statement from Planned Parenthood’s vice president of government relations and public affair cited a perceived partisan motive in the senators’ argument.

“It has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood health care organizations’ eligibility for COVID-19 relief efforts, and everything to do with the Trump administration using a public health crisis to advance a political agenda and distract from their own failures in protecting the American public from the spread of COVID-19,” Jacqueline Ayers said in a statement.

Stephanie Fraim, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said she would not be giving back the more than $2 million in loan money her affiliate received from the PPP, going on to call the request an “attack” on those who depend on its services.

The senators made no mention of politics in their letter to an attorney general who has already shown a willingness to look into allegations of fraud and corruption. Although it might please some Trump supporters to see Planned Parenthood investigated, it appears this investigation is based on a clear-cut interpretation of the law.

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