Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Signal on March 6, 2018.
You might never support a pro-abortion candidate, but what if your tax dollars are?
There’s more than a little evidence suggesting that’s exactly what’s happening with government-funded groups like Planned Parenthood.
Of course, some would argue that the money is spent on services, but let’s be honest. Those tax dollars are also used to expand their brand—making it easier for outgoing Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to raise the cash she needs to elect pro-abortion legislators who, in turn, keep the federal funds flowing.
Now that America’s biggest abortion provider has announced a $20 million midterm election strategy, most taxpayers can’t help but wonder where federal funds end and campaign checks begin.
“March. Vote. Win.” is the tagline of this latest offensive, which is setting its sights on key governor and senate races in places like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The organization’s spokespeople, who have been careful to call the $20 million the first installment of many, say the move is meant to counter the White House’s wave of pro-life policies.
“This past year, the Trump-Pence administration and Congress waged a war,” Planned Parenthood’s Kelley Robinson insisted. Now, Robinson promises, Planned Parenthood is fighting back.
And, thanks to the forced contributions of taxpayers—more than a half-billion dollars’ worth—Richards has all the flexibility she needs to free up money for the fight.
For groups like Planned Parenthood, it’s always been a delicate dance. As everyone knows, it’s illegal for Richards to use even a penny of federal funds on the group’s political activities. And while her accountants perform all the necessary tricks to keep the monies separate, there’s no denying that Planned Parenthood has room to spend more politically because Congress rewards it financially.
Of course, this you-scratch-my-back approach has been the group’s playbook since President Barack Obama. That’s when the organization first launched a political action committee aimed at keeping pro-lifers off Capitol Hill.
When Obama was elected, Planned Parenthood got quite a return on its investment—hundreds of millions of dollars in abortion-friendly extortion. Eight years later, Richards’ group was one of the first to endorse Hillary Clinton—and she returned the favor by promising to force taxpayers to bankroll abortion on demand.
Unfortunately for Clinton (who was all too happy to take the money tainted by baby body part sales), Americans lost their stomach for the kind of rabid agenda she was pushing.
This November, despite a noticeable shift in public opinion, the group is trying again.
“We’re sending a clear message to the politicians who made careers of undermining our freedom and rights,” said the group’s political arm. “We’re voting you out in 2018.” And it’s flush with cash to do so.
“Planned Parenthood’s PAC is among the most powerful lobbying groups in American politics,” writes Alexandra Desanctis in National Review, “shelling out $40 million last year for ‘public policy’ and investing upward of $175 million in such nebulous categories as ‘movement building,’ ‘strengthening and securing Planned Parenthood,’ and ‘engaging communities.'”
Obviously, an organization sitting on a billion dollars in assets doesn’t need taxpayers’ help to begin with. But there’s also a relevant public policy question of fairness, which is: Should an organization that gets direct taxpayer dollars be able to lobby for more?
Most taxpayers would probably agree: There’s a real problem when “nonprofit” organizations receive direct taxpayer funding, and then turn around with a related entity and indirectly use those dollars to impact the political process.
In my opinion, that’s fundamentally un-American. If an organization wants to shape public policy, it should have to raise the funds like we do—not use the government to supplant the dollars it needs.