Planned Parenthood Action Fund is the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. It works to elect candidates who are supportive of Planned Parenthood’s goals, which include increasing abortion access, increasing federal funding for birth control and abortifacient services, and to preserve federal funding for Planned Parenthood’s operations.
The fund normally supports Democratic and progressive candidates, who are more likely to support federal funding of abortion services. While PPAF does not routinely disclose its donors, records indicate it has received funding from other pro-abortion-rights groups including Emily’s List and the broader left-of-center movement, most notably the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) government worker labor union.
2016 Election Activities
In 2016, the fund spent $1,458,028 in independent expenditures. It spent $750,748 on behalf of Democrats and $475,936 against Republicans, mostly in the presidential race.
It spent $358,537 on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who received PPAF’s endorsement during the Democratic Presidential primaries, the earliest the fund has endorsed a Presidential candidate. The fund spent an additional $246,789 opposing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. However, Trump was not the only Republican presidential candidate it opposed. It spent various amounts of money against ten Republican Presidential candidates, most substantially former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
The fund was active in two U.S. Senate races. It spent $261,369 on behalf of North Carolina Democrat Deborah Ross and $100,109 against U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The fund was also active in Pennsylvania, where it spent $130,842 on behalf of Democratic candidate Katie McGinty and $20,665 against Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. The fund reportedly targeted the Presidential race and those two Senate races because it featured pro-abortion female candidates running against pro-life men. The Senate races were also chosen because they were Republican-held swing states and the Democratic challengers appeared to be polling well.
The largest single expenditure in the 2016 elections was for campaign mailings. The fund spent $1,153,503 on candidate direct mail. It also spent $73,259 on web ads. It also spent nearly $100,000 on polling and research.
The fund did not disclose its donors, except for a $8,590 donation from Emily’s List, another progressive organization.
2014 Election Activities
In 2014, the fund spent $930,290 in independent expenditures. Of that amount, they spent $475,893 on behalf of Democrats and $454,397 against Republicans.
The fund’s two biggest targets were Senate challengers Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Both men were running against Democratic incumbents. The fund spent $139,952 against Sullivan and $108,679 against Tillis. They also spent $109,589 on behalf of Alaska Democratic Senator Mark Begich and just $23,928 on North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan. Republicans won both Senate races.
The fund participated in only close battleground Senate races with one exception. They spent $79,019 on behalf of Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey as he ran in a special Senate election to replace John Kerry.