By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers has used federal COVID relief dollars to handsomely reward his allies at Planned Parenthood — an organization that has spent generously in electing Tony Evers.
One of every four federal COVID relief dollars in a state grant fund the governor controls has gone to Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, according to the Evers administration’s own tracking site.
The Democrat’s special attention to the controversial abortion provider may not be surprising but it is infuriating to a vehement opponent of Planned Parenthood.
“That’s ridiculous, especially when you look at what a sham health care provider Planned Parenthood is,” said state Sen. Andre Jacque after Empower Wisconsin informed the De Pere Republican of Evers’ distribution of funds from the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Nonprofit Grant Program. “Now they are using Tony Evers’ gifts as a further way to pad their bottom line.”
Just over a year ago, Evers announced a $10 million grant program for Wisconsin’s nonprofits “aimed at providing economic stabilization” for groups that provide “critical services to Wisconsinites during the pandemic.”
The program is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) and the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). part of billions of dollars in federal aid Wisconsin has received over the last year and a half. Evers has wide discretion in how he spends the money.
Eligible nonprofits include those “providing critical services to individuals in the areas of health care, housing and shelter, adult education, or other services being provided in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As of April (the last time the state Department of Administration updated the COVID-19 Response & Recovery website), only $5.4 million of the $10 million had been distributed. Of that, more than $1.4 million — 25 percent — was provided to Planned Parenthood facilities across Wisconsin.
Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin Avenue health center in Milwaukee received the biggest chunk of funding, about $346,000, according to the Evers administration. That’s about 25 percent of the total grants handed out to Planned Parenthood locations in the state, and about 6 1/2 percent of the total $5.4 million marked for nonprofits to date. Planned Parenthood’s Mitchell Street location in Milwaukee got nearly $180,000. Lincoln Plaza Health Center, Planned Parenthood’s West Allis office in suburban Milwaukee, received $149,600 in taxpayer COVID relief funds.
Call it return on investment.
Planned Parenthood has been a reliable source of campaign support for Evers and his fellow state Democrats. In 2018 and 2019, Planned Parenthood Advocates spent more than $700,0000 helping elect Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Attorney General Josh Kaul and others.
Evers has vetoed several bills opposed by Planned Parenthood.
“I mean, certainly, it’s not surprising that the administration is looking to basically give the largesse of government to donors and political friends. It’s not surprising, but it certainly is disgusting,” Jacque said.
Planned Parenthood saw 2.4 million patients at its reproductive health clinics, according to its most recent annual report issued earlier this year. It provided 345,871 abortions during its 2019-20 fiscal year, a 2.7 percent increase from the previous record year.