Dana Loesch, the National Rifle Association national spokesperson, is appalled and infuriated that Planned Parenthood’s political arm is part of a coalition planning to spend $30 million to help elect candidates who support abortion rights in the 2018 midterm elections, while its non-profit affiliate the Planned Parenthood Federation of America receives taxpayer reimbursements for providing medical care.
But while she falsely claimed that this unconnected funding amounts to “innocent American taxpayers who are being robbed,” she conveniently omitted the fact that her organization also has benefited from public subsidies as its own political arm has spent hundreds of millions on political advocacy.
“[Planned Parenthood] is a for-profit business,” Loesch incorrectly told Fox & Friends on Thursday, “and if they can afford to spent millions and millions of dollars on all of these Democrat [sic] politicians and buy influence in Washington, D.C., well then they can very much afford to operate without the indulgence of society’s forced tax funding.”
Planned Parenthood’s non-profit arm (a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization) receives reimbursement for providing medical care to patients under Medicaid and Title X. By law, almost none of this money is used to fund abortions and none of it is used for political advocacy. The separate, segregated 501(c)(4) Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Planned Parenthood Votes political action committee are using money raised from donations — not taxpayer dollars — as part of a coalition working to mobilize “infrequent voters.”
Similarly, the NRA operates political arms including its Institute for Legislative Action and its Political Victory Fund. Through these, it spend at least $55 million on the 2016 election in support of Donald Trump and other pro-gun candidates.
Yet the NRA accepts huge subsidies from local governments for its annual conferences. In February, Dallas residents launched a petition to urge the NRA to move its May 2018 conference after learning the city had given more than $400,000 worth of free rent to the group for its gathering. A 2016 Charlotte Observer report, “Cities beset by gun violence use subsidies to woo NRA,” noted that this was not unusual: “In cities such as Charlotte, Louisville and Houston, taxpayers have supported the NRA with subsidies, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Update: In response to the story, Loesch tweeted:
This comparison is a poor understanding of economics. The $400k rent is more than recouped by business brought in through 80k+ attendees — and to compare it to the fungible $500 million annually in taxpayer dollars given to PP? No dice. https://t.co/m1jBnQGtTi
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 19, 2018
Loesch’s own understanding of economics suggests that public funding to subsidize an organization’s event somehow doesn’t count if that event makes money for private businesses. Under this logic, the taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood’s medical services is similarly offset by the fact that the medical staff providing the services gets paid.