Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the committee that oversees the Small Business Administration, demanded an investigation Friday into how Planned Parenthood affiliates were able to access coronavirus stimulus loans that the government now says they clearly didn’t qualify for.
Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican, was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and more than 100 other members of Congress in telling the SBA that canceling the loans — which he said the agency has already agreed to do — isn’t enough.
“These circumstances require a full investigation in order to determine whether there was wrongdoing, and we urge that any such misconduct be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the lawmakers wrote to SBA chief Jovita Carranza.
Dozens of clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest network of abortion providers, won stimulus loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help small businesses maintain their payroll. In all, they got about $80 million in taxpayer-backed loans.
While the clinics have relatively small staffing levels, as a network Planned Parenthood counts 16,000 employees nationwide — far beyond the 500-employee threshold for nonprofits trying to access the paycheck program, Mr. Rubio said.
He pointed out that Planned Parenthood itself, in late March, admitted it didn’t qualify for PPP loans.
“Under these circumstances, the application for and receipt of loans through the program suggests unlawful conduct,” Mr. Rubio and his colleagues wrote.
Planned Parenthood now says the local clinics that applied for the money do qualify under the rules.
The crux of the dispute appears to be over how closely the local affiliates are aligned to the national organization.
Mr. Rubio and his colleagues said that even though they are separately incorporated, Planned Parenthood labels the affiliates “local offices,” and said the bylaws allow the national organization ti “impose policies and practices on its affiliates.”
Democrats have risen to defend Planned Parenthood, saying the criticism from the GOP is less about the abortion provider taking money it shouldn’t have, and more about attacking a political enemy.
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