A handful of documents furnished to the Daily Caller News Foundation following a Freedom Of Information Act request have left more questions than answers on the issue of Planned Parenthood receiving millions in COVID relief intended for small businesses—something several GOP lawmakers claim is illegal.
According to the Daily Caller, the Small Business Administration responded to the news outlet’s May 2020 FOIA request, but only furnished the outlet with massively redacted communications between the agency, Planned Parenthood affiliates, and lenders regarding Paycheck Protection Program loans
In spite of calls by Republican legislators for a full investigation and allegations that Planned Parenthood was ineligible for the funds and obtained them illegally, the SBA has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.
The Daily Caller continues:
Due to the redactions, it is not clear what the SBA decided or how the SBA rationalized its decision. However, one May 18, 2020 email from an SBA employee to a Sun Trust email address said that the SBA did not have the ability to make a final determination on eligibility as “these decisions are the responsibility of the applicant and the lender.”
The email noted that an unnamed applicant met the needed 501(c)(3) criteria.
“If other eligibility criteria is met then the submission may be eligible,” the email said.
The outlet pushed the SBA for more information on the few partially un-redacted communications from Planned Parenthood affiliates. One such email is from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Director of Finance Jennifer Meyer:
The email’s subject line reads, “PPP funds in new account” and although the SBA redacted the entire contents of the message itself, Meyer’s name, email signature, and subject line are visible.
SBA spokeswoman Megan Moore told the Daily Caller that Meyer’s name was “inadvertently released” but that SBA cannot release the information of applicants who “did not ultimately receive a loan.”
Public documents indicate that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England did, in fact, receive a PPP loan of $2.72 million on April 5, 2020.
When the Daily Caller asked Moore to explain the apparent contradiction, she acknowledged that her previous statement that this particular Planned Parenthood did not receive a loan was false but said that prior discussions of the New England affiliate’s eligibility cannot be released.
The Daily Caller reminded Moore that the redacted emails were sent after the loan was already issued, but Moore insisted that “questions regarding eligibility may be raised at any time regardless of loan approval date.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s widespread plan to bail out various affected individuals and businesses, Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund made quite a stink over the fact that the CARES Act legislation gave the SBA the power to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving loans.
“The bill gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates and other non-profits serving people with low incomes and deny them benefits under the new small business loan program,” a March 2020 statement by PPAF complained.
Despite the complaint that it would be unfairly excluded from receiving PPP funds, Planned Parenthood confirmed in May 2020 that “some independent Planned Parenthood 501(c)(3) organizations applied for and were awarded loans under the eligibility rules established by the CARES Act and the Small Business Administration (SBA), which they met,” the Daily Caller reports.
Since May, SBA has repeatedly refused to discuss the matter to the DCNF. SBA repeatedly told the DCNF that it does not “comment on individual borrowers.”
“Americans have a right to know why their tax dollars went to Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics instead of struggling small businesses, non-profits, and churches,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) told the Daily Caller of the push to have SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza to investigate how 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates received $80 million in loans.
“The Small Business Administration ought to disclose how Planned Parenthood affiliates gamed the system to illegally receive PPP loans—and then refer those affiliates to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Sen. Cotton added.
“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,” a group of lawmakers said in a May 2020 letter on the matter.
In January, several lawmakers called on SBA yet again to investigate the PPP loans.
“Planned Parenthood affiliates are well aware that they are ineligible to receive PPP loans, on the basis of SBA’s letters and the frank admission of their political action committee,” senators wrote in the January letter to Carranza. “Their attempts to apply for PPP loans are naked attempts to defraud the United States government.”
The letter also pointed out that Planned Parenthood employs roughly 16,000 people nationwide and “jealously exercises control over local affiliates, subjecting them to uniform bylaws, accreditation, frequent reviews, and mandates about what services they must provide to remain part of the Federation, such as onsite abortion.”
“Nonetheless, at least 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates illegally obtained more than $80 million in taxpayer funds during the initial rounds of PPP by self certifying their eligibility for the program,” the senators wrote. “In response, the SBA determined that these affiliates were ineligible to receive PPP loans and issued letters informing them of the consequences of false certifications of eligibility, including repayment of loans, loss of loan forgiveness, and other civil and criminal penalties.”
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