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GOP Probe Into Planned Parenthood Funding Comes Up Empty

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/10/2015 Jennifer Bendery
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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that the GOP's investigation into Planned Parenthood's use of federal funds hasn't turned up anything.

"Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn't find any," he said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the family planning provider.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing last week. He questioned her salary, asked about the organization's expenses and revenues, and pressed Richards on why the group had revenue of $127 million last year if it's a nonprofit. (Nonprofits put their revenues back into their programs.)

But after all that, he concluded that Planned Parenthood isn't doing anything sketchy with its money. "Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no," Chaffetz said.

His concession will be music to Democrats' ears, who have long accused Republicans of trying to sink Planned Parenthood because they oppose abortion. The women's health care provider gets about $500 million a year in federal funds, but federal law prohibits any of it from being used for abortions. Instead, the money is used to subsidize a range of health care services for low-income women, including birth control, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Republicans have been ramping up their attacks on Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists released heavily edited undercover videos a few months ago that purported to show the family planning provider selling fetal tissue after abortions.  Multiple state investigations and a federal investigation have so far been unable to find any facts to support that claim. 

Planned Parenthood, which legally accepts money to cover the costs of transporting donated fetal tissue to medical researchers, has slammed the videos as "deceptively edited" and denies any wrongdoing

Chaffetz said Thursday that he still supports digging into Planned Parenthood's activities, even if they're using their money appropriately.

"I think there will continue to be investigations," he said.

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