For the very first time Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood CEO, was questioned by Congress about her organization’s failure to report sexual abuse of minors and widespread Medicaid fraud allegedly committed by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The hearing before the House Oversight Committee was ostensibly about the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress that purportedly show Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating to sell baby body parts to medical researchers. But, except for the Democrats repeatedly calling the videos doctored and phony, most of the hearing was about other issues Republican hope to use to end Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood, which total more than $500 million a year.
Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) opened the hearings explaining Planned Parenthood is a rich and wasteful organization of limited value to the women it serves and that wastes American tax dollars. He said they make $1.3 billion a year in revenue, spent $5 million a year on travel, pay their top executives lavishly — $600,000 for CEO Richards alone — and throw fancy parties, one of them called “Champagne Chocolate”.
Republicans challenged Richards on a whole host of her claims, including the one that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood “services” comes from abortion. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) presented a tax document from a single Planned Parenthood affiliate from Rochester, New York that showed $1.4 million out of $5 million representing 28 percent in total revenue comes from abortion.
Meadows asked Richards if she would provide a similar document from all Planned Parenthood abortion facilities. Richards largely resisted and dissembled.
She said she would talk to her staff and that her group had already provided all tax documents and had been totally transparent. But she did not agree to provide any further documents on abortion revenues.
Richards was also challenged on one of her claims, that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. In the hearing today finally admitted none of her facilities do. She admitted that Planned Parenthood only ever refers women for mammograms.
One of the questions was what appears to be the huge “profit” Planned Parenthood ends each year. The last reporting year showed their revenue above expenses was $127 million.
Richards denies this is a profit and says her group only asks for reimbursements for services provided. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) gave an example of how Planned Parenthood could realize such revenues above expenses. Under questioning Richards said her group negotiates a national cost for a packet of contraceptive pills of roughly $3 per packet. She admitted to Gosar that her group charges some states a reimbursement for that $3 only but for other states she gets reimbursed up to $33.
This opened up the question of Medicaid fraud; charges that continue to dog Planned Parenthood. She admitted under oath that her group had to settle a case in Texas last year totaling $4.3 million for making false claims and false statements to the U.S. government. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing an ongoing case in Iowa where a former Planned Parenthood staff member is charging fraud and abuse of Medicaid reimbursements.
The Democrats spent the day condemning the Republicans for having the hearings in the first place and insisting the hearings were an attempt to harm women’s health.
They also went through the usual litany of attacking the “abortion extremists” who put together “doctored” videos. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) charged that David Daleiden and his CMP colleagues spent three years “trying to entrap Planned Parenthood personnel into providing him and his colleagues with tissue samples of aborted fetuses. But no one has identified a single example of when that occurred. So instead they put out these misleading videos which were heavily edited where Planned Parenthood staffers repeatedly said ‘no, no, no.’”
A number of Democrats tried to resurrect the war on women meme in this case directed toward Cecil Richards who, they charged, Republicans were abusing by tough questioning.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) shouted that Richards was being sharply questioned and even interrupted because she was a woman and it amounted to “misogyny.”
Rep. Caroline Maloney (D-NY) said she had never seen such mistreatment of a female witness in all her years in Congress.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said the questioning of Richards was “offensive.”
One observer who has briefed members of the committee told Breitbart News that Richards had done pretty well for herself at the hearings that lasted most of the day. “Cecile has not had to change her story and her story is working. The only thing she can do by answering any of these questions in get herself in trouble. The longer she can go without answering questions, the more her brand stays intact.”
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse