low blows

Desperate Republicans Attack Planned Parenthood Chief’s Salary

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testifies at a congressional hearing yesterday.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testifies at a congressional hearing yesterday. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Investigations conducted by several states have yet to find any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood in the handling of fetal remains, so Republicans are getting desperate. Yesterday, they attacked Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards’s salary at a congressional hearing on the group’s use of federal funding — a move Democrats characterized as misogynistic and hypocritical.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, argued that Richards’s compensation is one reason why he thinks the group doesn’t need government money. Chaffetz “congratulated” Richards on claiming $590,000 on her 2013 tax return, noting that the number jumped significantly from $353,000 in 2009. Richards clarified that her salary is actually $520,000, but that’s not the point. Democrats stepped in to defend her and denounce the line of questioning.

“I find it extremely hypocritical that the Republicans criticize the salaries of Planned Parenthood officials when you have violated no law, especially while the same Republicans completely ignore the CEOs of huge companies that are actually guilty of breaking the law,” said Representative Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland. He noted that the heads of Citigroup and J.P. Morgan made about $13 million and $20 million last year and they have both pleaded guilty to manipulating interest rates.

Representative Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, was more sarcastic. “How dare you? Who do you think you are?” he said, mimicking Republicans. “Making a professional salary as the head of a premier national organization, and daring to actually make decisions, as the head of that organization.”

And Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, said that the scrutiny was sexist. “In the entire time I’ve been in Congress, I’ve never seen a witness beaten up and questioned about their salary. Ms. Richards heads a distinguished organization providing health-care services to millions of Americans and I find it totally inappropriate and discriminatory.”

Connolly agreed, adding, “My colleagues like to say this isn’t a war on women. Look at how you’ve been treated as a witness. The disrespect, the misogyny rampant here today tells us what is really going on.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Planned Parenthood receives about $450 million a year in federal funding, of which nearly $390 million is reimbursement from Medicaid for services provided to low-income patients including STD testing, cancer screening, and birth control. About $60 million comes from a federal family-planning grant. Zero dollars can be used to provide abortions, except where the law permits it in the cases of rape, of incest, or where the mother’s life is in danger. Republicans are leading an effort to defund the organization, but President Obama has said he’d veto any legislation that does so. Congratulations, Republicans, your pointless attack on Planned Parenthood continues to show how you really feel about women’s health.

GOP Attacks Planned Parenthood Chief’s Salary