SALT LAKE CITY — Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney want the Department of Justice to investigate whether dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country “fraudulently” received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Utah senators are among two dozen Republicans who sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, saying the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act prohibits organizations like Planned Parenthood from receiving PPP funds.
The program was designed to help small businesses retain employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Romney said in a tweet, adding the DOJ should investigate whether Planned Parenthood “fraudulently” applied for and received nearly $80 million in loans it was ineligible for.
At least 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates received loans, according to the senators.
In the letter, the senators say the program wasn’t designed to provide money to “politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”
“The funds in the program are not unlimited, and were depleted once already because of high demand. Planned Parenthood fraudulently taking tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help keep those small businesses and nonprofit organizations afloat cannot stand and must be addressed,” the GOP senators said.
Planned Parenthood said that the affiliates do in fact qualify for PPP loans.
“Like many other local nonprofits and health care providers, 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, which they met,” Jacqueline Ayers, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s vice president of government relations and public policy, said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood called the senators’ request for an investigation a “clear political attack” on its health centers and access to reproductive health care.
“It has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood health care organizations’ eligibility for COVID-19 relief efforts, and everything to do with the Trump administration using a public health crisis to advance a political agenda and distract from their own failures in protecting the American public from the spread of COVID-19,” Ayers said.
According to the senators, Planned Parenthood knew that it was ineligible for the small business loans long before its affiliates “fraudulently self-certified” that they were eligible.
“As you know, fraudulent loan applications can trigger both civil and criminal penalties,” the letter to Barr reads.