The head of the House Oversight Committee is accusing Planned Parenthood of misspending more than $40 million in federal dollars on “lavish” travel, theme parties and a costly Manhattan office.
Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) on Tuesday accused the organization of racking up “exorbitant travel expenses,” including first-class flights, charter travel and entertainment costs that included $622,706 on “blowout parties” with celebrity guests.
Some of the themed parties had names such as “Gathering of Goddesses and Gods,” “Chocolate Champagne” and “Murder Mystery,” according to a report released by the committee during the hearing Tuesday.
The findings were the results of a months-long investigation into Planned Parenthood's spending, in which the committee analyzed several years of tax returns.
Chaffetz also questioned the salary of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who appeared before his panel for the first time on Tuesday.
“That’s money that’s not going to women’s healthcare,” Chaffetz said.
The Oversight report details Planned Parenthood’s total of $5,109,997 on travel in 2013, which averaged approximately $14,000 a day.
The committee’s report also noted Planned Parenthood’s real estate holdings, including $34.8 million for its corporate office space near Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2011. In 2015, it sold a 72,000 square-foot condominium to Brookfield Property Partners for $69.6 million.
One of the committee’s top Democrats said Chaffetz was out of line for asking about Richard’s salary.
“I find it totally inappropriate and discriminatory,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said.
"I’ve never seen a witness beaten up and questioned about their salary."
Richards is appearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the first time since the release of a series of undercover videos on Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue program. Those videos have spurred a push from Republicans in Congress to halt the group’s federal funding.
During her opening remarks, Richards urged the House Oversight Committee to denounce what she called the “great deal of misinformation” that was the catalyst for GOP-led attempts to defund the organization.
“The outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood, based on heavily doctored videos, are offensive and categorically untrue,” Richards said in her strongest statement yet about the videos.
“These acts against women and healthcare providers don’t reflect American values or the rule of law. I hope this committee will condemn them,” she said.
Richards gave a robust defense of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services, citing its role in breast cancer screenings, STD testing and birth control. She pushed back against arguments that the services offered by Planned Parenthood clinics could be easily replaced by federally funded community health centers.
“For many American women, Planned Parenthood is the only healthcare provider they will see this year,” she said.
— This story was updated at 11:31 a.m.