Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, yesterday appeared on the 700 Club to talk about his recently launched investigation into the finances and policies of Planned Parenthood. During the interview, he discussed the influence of anti-abortion groups on his decision.
Stearns incited controversy after requesting documents from Planned Parenthood about the organization’s financial information and policies. Yesterday, more than 130,000 signatures were sent to Stearns, petitioning him to seize the investigation. Fellow members of Congress have also joined in condemning the investigation calling it “needless and politically motivated,” “an abusive witch hunt by Republicans,” “an unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars” and “harassment,” among other things.
During his conversation with Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, Stearns admitted his interest in launching an investigation came from reports compiled by anti-abortion groups Americans United for Life and Live Action. While Planned Parenthood has called the report false and “ideologically driven,” Stearns contends it was reason enough to launch an investigation.
The anti-abortion groups have said the reports were compiled in an effort to get members of Congress to investigate and then defund the chain of women’s clinics.
“Those reports got my attention,” Stearns told Robertson.
He also said the reason he began the investigation was to show “all the misconduct, malfeasance, as well as abuse of women and their safety in Planned Parenthood.”
According to Stearns, one of the biggest motivators for the investigation had to do with the economy and the fact that tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood, and many others, through Title X.
“You know, in a larger sense,” he told Robertson, “if you look at it from this standpoint, they get about a million dollars a day — roughly 360 million a year — through Title X. … We just want to see how this money is being used … to track it.”
Stearns said that “we are broke in this country” and he told Robertson he questions whether we should “be giving that money to Planned Parenthood.”
Stearns is not alone in framing the fight to defund Planned Parenthood in terms of the country’s economic troubles. Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, said in a recent interview that her organization is using the ongoing economic crisis to press for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Stearns also dismissed the petition sent to him yesterday during his appearance. He said it was part of a “dedication on the left” to defend Planned Parenthood. He said he was “a little surprised” by the petitioners’ response to the investigation.
Ultimately, Stearns said the investigation was part of his belief in “fiscal responsibility and a culture of life.”
You can watch the whole interview: