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PPFA probe clouded after rep’s defeat

WASHINGTON (BP) — The congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood appeared to suffer a setback Tuesday (Aug. 14) in a Florida primary election.

Twelve-term Congressman Cliff Stearns stunningly fell to challenger Ted Yoho in the Republican primary by a margin of slightly more than 1 percent of the vote. Stearns’ defeat means he will no longer be in the House of Representatives come January to continue to lead what likely will be an unresolved investigation of the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

Stearns launched the inquiry into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates in September 2011 but told Fox News in late July he was ready to put the organization “under oath” after the post-abortion death of a client in Chicago and its failure to answer his questions the last 10 months.

In a July 27 written statement for Baptist Press, Stearns said, “Although Planned Parenthood has provided some 8,000 pages of documents, they have not provided some of the records requested such as internal audits and audits by state agencies.

“For far too long, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have operated with near immunity from Congressional oversight, gladly accepting over $1 million per day in taxpayer support while claiming an exemption from the normal standards of accountability that every other recipient of public funds is expected to meet. State audit reports and admissions by former Planned Parenthood employees detail a pattern of misuse of federal funds by some Planned Parenthood affiliates, as well as ignoring state reporting laws designed to protect women and minors from sexual abuse.”

In Tuesday’s primary, Yoho unofficially received 21,896 votes (34.4 percent) while Stearns garnered 21,067 votes (33.1 percent), according to the Associated Press. Two other candidates split the remaining votes.

Stearns has conducted the investigation of PPFA as chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In a letter last fall to PPFA President Cecile Richards, Stearns requested information about the organization’s use of federal funds and compliance with federal law. He asked Richards to provide audits, documentation, policies and procedures regarding such issues as improper billing, segregation of federal funds from abortion services and reporting of suspected sex abuse and human trafficking.

PPFA and its affiliates received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That money helps support an organization with clinics that performed 329,445 abortions, which was more than one-fourth of the abortions in the United States for 2010.

Various scandals have plagued Planned Parenthood in recent years, and a growing number of former clinic directors and other workers have made a variety of charges – including widespread Medicaid fraud — against the organization.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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