Planned Parenthood may poor-mouth when its government funding is on the line, but that hasn’t stopped the abortion giant from spending lavishly on politicians who promise to keep the taxpayer dollars coming.
Planned Parenthood’s political arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, was the second-biggest spender on the Democratic side of the ledger in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, putting more than $734,000 behind Jon Ossoff.
The only group that spent more was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which poured $4.9 million into the race.
Michael J. Norton, president and general counsel of the Colorado Freedom Institute, a religious-liberty legal firm, said Planned Parenthood’s involvement in political races raises a “huge ethical issue.”
“Planned Parenthood is trying to influence the outcome of races so as to line its pockets with more taxpayer dollars for abortion and abortion-related services,” Mr. Norton said. “It doesn’t square with Planned Parenthood’s argument that cutting off federal funds is going to deprive women of necessary health care.”
Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $500 million in annual taxpayer funding, could not be reached for comment. The group’s Action Fund is funded by donations, which are kept legally separate from the general revenue.
The abortion giant’s spending in Georgia is just a drop in the bucket of its overall political activity. The group said it spent $30 million last year in support of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, more than double what it spent in 2012.
As a part of the #PinkOutTheVote campaign, Planned Parenthood inundated six swing states—Wisconsin, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire—with 1,500 paid canvassers, nearly 250 outreach events and countless television ads.
Of those six states, President Trump won four.
Planned Parenthood similarly failed to win a series of special elections earlier this year.
In the race for the Montana House seat vacated by Rep. Ryan Zinke, who was appointed to head the U.S. Department of the Interior by Mr. Trump, Planned Parenthood launched a six-figure ad buy touting Democrat Rob Quist as a champion for women. Even after Republican Greg Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault against a reporter, Mr. Quist lost by more than 5 points.
And despite heavy backing from the abortion industry, Mr. Ossoff failed to grab the seat vacated by former Rep. Tom Price. Mr. Trump carried Georgia’s 6th District by just 1.5 points, but pro-life Republican Karen Handel won the seat by nearly 4 points.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the race turned out to be a referendum on Planned Parenthood.
“Although America’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, spent six figures in support of her opponent Jon Ossoff, Karen’s record of courageous leadership won the day,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Mr. Ossoff routinely attacked Mrs. Handel for her brief stint at the Susan G. Komen Foundation, where she was vice president for policy. Mrs. Handel resigned from that job in 2012 after she was blamed for attempting to end the partnership between the breast cancer charity and Planned Parenthood.
At the time, Mrs. Handel declined to take a severance payment from the Komen Foundation to avoid a non-disclosure agreement. She later wrote a book about the incident, titled “Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”
The Ossoff campaign released an ad, titled “Unforgivable,” accusing Mrs. Handel of cutting off “funding for Planned Parenthood cancer screenings” during her time at Komen.
Mr. Norton attributed Planned Parenthood’s increased political activity to “desperation,” pointing to Republican electoral gains and the plan to divest the abortion provider’s taxpayer funding to clinics that do not perform abortions.
He said making every race about abortion may be backfiring on Democrats.
“People are interested in jobs, the economy, health care, problems with Obamacare, immigration and securing our borders, tax reform and regulatory reform — that’s what people are interested in,” he said. “So when all Democrats want to talk about is people’s sexual proclivities, it turns people off. It just doesn’t resonate with the voters.”