Investigative

United Way affiliates give $3 million a year to Planned Parenthood

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(The Daily Signal) United Way affiliates provide almost $3 million a year to Planned Parenthood, according to a money-tracking website that examines consumer and political causes.

2nd Vote, a conservative, nonprofit watchdog that tracks corporate spending, conducted what it calls “exhausting” research of United Way affiliates and their giving to Planned Parenthood.

“Last year, 2nd Vote compiled an exhaustive list of United Way affiliates that helped fund the world’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood,” 2nd Vote spokesman Robert Kuykendall said in a formal statement. “The latest available financial documentation for each of these affiliates indicates that United Way funnels almost $3 million to Planned Parenthood every year.”

United Way Worldwide, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a nonprofit that focuses on community-based charity.

2nd Vote said it conducted research on Internal Revenue Service Form 990 filings for United Way affiliates in tax years 2013 and 2014. The group found that almost 6 percent of the affiliates, 76, donated to Planned Parenthood based on the latest 990s available for each chapter.

“Financial support for Planned Parenthood from nonprofits like United Way helps fund an organization that engages in repulsive practices and is an advocate for policies that allow the destruction of innocent lives,” Kuykendall said.

After the pro-life Center for Medical Progress released a string of undercover videos that showed officials of Planned Parenthood clinics discussing the sale of  body parts and other tissue from aborted babies, Congress started investigating the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood Foundation of America has denied any illegal conduct.

2nd Vote created the “Pro-Life Guide to United Way” last year. The organization updated the information for 2016 on June 17, including the most recent information on United Way chapters that contribute to Planned Parenthood.

“In addition to providing abortion services, Planned Parenthood also has an extremely effective, extremely liberal political arm, and the money funneled by United Way essentially helps support all of Planned Parenthood’s operations,” Kuykendall told The Daily Signal in an email.

In 2013, United Way affiliates donated $3 million to Planned Parenthood, up from $2.6 million in 2014, according to 2nd Vote.

United Way affiliates in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin gave over $170,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2013-14. Some of these states are considered swing states, or battleground states, in the presidential election.

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“2nd Vote’s research found that United Way donations to Planned Parenthood in certain swing states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, [and] Virginia appeared significantly higher than others, in some cases around $100,000-$200,000 more a year,” Kuykendall said in the email to The Daily Signal, adding:

Independent expenditure reports from the FEC [Federal Election Commission] show that Planned Parenthood has funded get-out-the-vote telephone calls and mailings in opposition to Republicans and in support of Democratic candidates in these states in the past. 2nd Vote believes that donors to United Way should understand that their charitable contributions could be helping fund Planned Parenthood’s public profile in critical swing states.

Last July, 2nd Vote compiled a list of companies and other organizations that directly donate to Planned Parenthood. Adobe, Avon, Exxon Mobil, and Starbucks were on the list, along with United Way.

A spokesman for United Way Worldwide said United Way has no comment beyond what the organization told The Daily Signal last summer:

United Way Worldwide, the leadership and support organization for the network of local United Ways, does not provide financial support to Planned Parenthood. All funding decisions by local United Ways are made by individual United Ways based on an assessment of local needs. United Way Worldwide does not dictate funding decisions to local United Way.

“No United Way funds are currently used, or have ever been used, to support abortion services,” the United Way spokesman told The Daily Signal. “Several local United Way partners provide professional family and individual counseling services, which include professional counseling on pregnancy-related problems.”

United Way says it focuses on education, financial stability, and health in more than 1,800 communities and 40 countries around the world. The charity carries out its mission “by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good,” according to its website.

“Our work is fueled by the passion of 2.9 million volunteers and 10.3 million donors who give their time, their money and their voice to improve the lives of others,” the website says.

A United Way CEO, William Aramony, brought scandal to the organization in the 1990s when he was convicted on federal charges of embezzling more than $1 million during his 20 years leading the organization.

Affiliates Respond

“Does United Way really expect us to believe that its network of affiliates sends around $3 million every year to the world’s largest abortion provider and then, magically, those dollars have nothing to do with United Way or abortion?” 2nd Vote’s Kuykendall said, adding:

We will continue to hold United Way accountable, especially the United Way affiliates that fund Planned Parenthood, for helping to support an organization that not only performs over 300,000 abortions a year, but also advocates for an extremely liberal, anti-life political agenda.

The Daily Signal sought comment from the 76 United Way affiliates that 2nd Vote found to have donated to Planned Parenthood in tax years 2013 and 2014. A total of 31 affiliates responded.

Of them, four—United Way of Greater Atlanta, United Way of Merced County Inc. in California, United Way of York County in Maine, and Aloha United Way in Hawaii—specifically confirmed making donations to Planned Parenthood.

“United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA) funds a number of women’s health programs that are focused on delivering quality medical care, preventive services, and health education to reduce health disparities in our community,” Shana Wood Davis, the affiliate’s senior director of corporate communications, told The Daily Signal in an email.

A spokesman for the Merced County affiliate said it funded a small, local program that worked with young men in 2013-14, but has not funded Planned Parenthood since then. The spokesman said:

However, there are instances when a donor who makes a donation to United Way will specify that their donation be directed to a specific nonprofit organization, and occasionally that organization has been Planned Parenthood. When that happens, we are obligated to honor that donor’s request and will send a check to Planned Parenthood.

The York County affiliate said it gave to Planned Parenthood to support health care for men and women. Aloha United Way said its donations went toward community education and individual counseling for youth.

Defining ‘Donate’

Other United Way affiliates responded with what they see as clarifications.

“We don’t ‘donate’ funds; we manage and distribute donations sent by donors to specific health and human services agencies across the region and the state,” Deborah Bowie, president and CEO of United Way of North Central Florida, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “All funds, in fact, are donor-directed via either workplace campaigns or direct donations to a specific United Way.”

United Way of Long Island in New York said none of its unrestricted funds went to support reproductive choices.

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United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s president and CEO, Eric Dewey, gave this statement to The Daily Signal:

When you donate to United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, your donation will not go to Planned Parenthood unless you specify otherwise through a donor-directed designation.

2nd Vote found that United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, located in Pennsylvania, donated over $435,000 to Planned Parenthood in tax years 2013-14.

The affiliate said it does not give Planned Parenthood general operating support. It has, however, funded specific community health programs centered on education for responsible behaviors. Individual donors also gave to Planned Parenthood through United Way’s administration of gifts through a donor choice program.

“A core guiding principle to United Way’s policy is to honor the donor’s intent based on IRS tax exempt eligibility,” Karen Mathison, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo in Ohio, said in a statement to The Daily Signal.

Donor Designations

United Way of Greater Toledo and 19 other affiliates told The Daily Signal that they don’t directly fund Planned Parenthood but individual donors designate gifts to Planned Parenthood.

“Every year, a few donors specifically designate some of their giving to Planned Parenthood, and we honor all donor designations and serve as a ‘pass through’ for those funds,” a spokesman with United Way of Greater Portland in Maine said.

The affiliates that said they do not donate directly to Planned Parenthood include: Mile High United Way in Colorado; United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut; United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Inc.; United Way of East Central Iowa Inc.; United Way of Greater Kansas City in Missouri; United Way of Central Maryland Inc.; United Way of the Midlands in Nebraska; United Way of Central New Mexico; United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra; United Way of Central Oklahoma Inc.; United Way of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania; United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania; United Way of Williamson County in Tennessee; United Way of South Hampton Roads in Virginia; United Way of Pierce County in Washington; and United Way of Greater Milwaukee.

“United Way of Delaware does not direct any organizational funds to Planned Parenthood,” Michelle A. Taylor, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement to The Daily Signal. “All donations are from individual donors who designate their contributions to Planned Parenthood.”

United Way of Delaware made combined contributions of $172,092 to Planned Parenthood in tax years 2013-14, according to 2nd Vote.

“Because Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) charity, we do have donors in our area who choose to give to Planned Parenthood through their paycheck. But the money Planned Parenthood receives is directly from the donor—United Way just processes it,” Stephanie R. M. Bray, president and CEO at United Way California Capital Region, told The Daily Signal in an email.

No Comment

The Daily Signal received no comment from United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties in Ohio, which 2nd Vote says donated a total of $65,000 to Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio in 2013-14,  and United Way of Greater Greensboro Inc. in North Carolina, which 2nd Vote says donated a total of $20,473 to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in 2013-14.

United Way of Summit County in Ohio, 2nd Vote found, donated $147,632 to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio in 2013 and $129,802 in 2014.  The chapter had no comment, but said the affiliate “supports medical care services, family planning, communicable disease prevention, and health education largely aimed at very low-income, uninsured women.”

The Summit County affiliate added that funds “are not currently used, or have ever been used, to support abortion services.”

“If United Way portrays itself as a ‘pass-through’ for multiple charities, shouldn’t individuals just make direct contributions to their charity of choice in the first place?” 2nd Vote’s Kuykendall said.

At the time of publication, 45 United Way affiliates had not responded to The Daily Signal.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Daily Signal on June 24, 2016, and is reprinted here with permission.

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