Following last month’s revelation that Planned Parenthood’s 501(c)(3) organization in New York may have illegally contributed $75,000 to influence elections in Washington State, Senator Mike Padden – also the Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee – has formally requested an investigation into the contribution.
Washington public disclosure rules require that campaigns and committees report the name of the individual or group making the donation, the address, and the amount of the contribution exactly as printed on the check or transfer documents. The donation in question was initially reported to the PDC as being made by “Planned Parenthood” in New York City – a 501(c)(3) organization not legally allowed to contribute to political action committees – before twice amending the report to indicate that the money came from a legal source. What we don’t yet know is which report is accurate.
Padden’s letter also raises the question of whether or not any of the Planned Parenthood groups have filed a C-5 form, required by state law to be submitted when an out-of-state political committee makes political contributions inside Washington State.
A copy of Padden’s 45-day letter to the Attorney General can be seen here.
Shortly after FPIW reported concerns regarding the potentially illegal contribution last month, Planned Parenthood Votes Washington PAC twice amended filings with the PDC.
The first amended filing erroneously revised the contributor to “Planned Parenthood Votes,” an organization that could be authorized to make this contribution, but is not located at the address originally on record for the donation.
The second amended filing revises the contributor to “Planned Parenthood Action Fund,” an entity of Planned Parenthood that could be authorized to make contributions to campaigns, and also has an office located at the address first recorded.
The question remains: which report is accurate? Did the donation actually come from a legal source? Or are they simply amending reports to make it look like it did?
The reliability of the reports is also called into question, in part, because of who is involved. Lora Haggard, the Treasurer of the Planned Parenthood Votes Washington PAC, previously worked as the Chief Financial Officer of John Edwards’ failed 2008 presidential campaign. As the Campaign’s CFO, it is thought that Lora Haggard was heavily involved in concealing $1 million in hush money that were paid to Edwards’ mistress and daughter. She testified multiple times to convince judges and juries that the funds donated towards keeping the affair quiet were personal, not campaign contributions, despite them taking place during Edwards’ presidential campaign.
Lora Haggard also previously served on the board of three political advocacy organizations: Foundation for Patients’ Rights, Citizens for Strength and Security, and Citizens for Strength and Security Action Fund. These three organizations were involved in “highly unusual” activities regarding their tax status, disclosure policies, and adherence to federal tax laws, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
While Haggard’s involvement doesn’t prove this contribution is illegal, it does raise questions. If Planned Parenthood were looking for someone to conceal activities, contributions, or expenditures, Haggard’s previous experience would qualify her for the job.
We’ll keep you updated here at FPIW.org.