Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Abortion rights PAC tied to Kansas clinic disbands

June 18, 2014


— A Kansas-based abortion rights group has disbanded its political action committee and faced criticism Wednesday from an anti-abortion leader that the PAC's real purpose was to help start the clinic now operating in the late Dr. George Tiller's medical building in Wichita.

Campaign finance records showed that the Trust Women PAC made only a handful of contributions to candidates after its founding in August 2009. It was fined twice by the Federal Election Commission in the past two years, paying a total of $4,262 in penalties for failing to meet reporting requirements.

Julie Burkhart, Trust Women's executive director, said the PAC wasn't shut down because of the issues with federal regulators or criticism from the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Instead, she said Trust Women concluded it was "pulled in so many directions," so the PAC notified the FEC that it was ceasing operations in a May 15 filing.

"We are so incredibly focused on providing direct care services that we really don't have time to focus on the political piece," Burkhart said.

Trust Women opened the South Wind Women's Center last year in the building that had housed Tiller's clinic for decades. Tiller was among a few physicians in the U.S. known to perform abortions in the final weeks of pregnancy, and he was shot to death in May 2009 by an anti-abortion zealot. Burkhart was an associate of Tiller's, served as his clinic's spokeswoman and led ProKanDo, a PAC funded largely by Tiller's contributions.

Operation Rescue filed a complaint last year with the FEC demanding an audit of the Trust Women PAC's finances. Cheryl Sullenger, the anti-abortion group's senior policy adviser, said Wednesday that she believes it shut down to avoid further scrutiny.

The PAC reported to the FEC last year that it had received $8,410 in payments in August and September from the clinic, listing the same amount as a debt owed to the PAC for office furniture.

"We believe that they were improperly giving startup money to the abortion clinic," Sullenger said. "There are still a lot of questions we have."

Burkhart called the allegation "incredibly false."

The PAC's reports show about $358,000 in spending during its 5-year life but only $7,300 for contributions or independent expenditures to help a total of five candidates.

The PAC reported spending nearly $80,000 on fundraising services, including nearly $67,000 in 2009 and 2010 to a Lincoln, Nebraska, firm, the Hudson Bay Co. The PAC also paid a total of nearly $94,000 to more than two dozen individuals as staffers, interns and consultants, including more than $32,000 to Burkhart.

The FEC levied a $550 fine in September 2012 after the PAC failed to file a report for the second quarter of the year. The report was filed more than two months late.

The FEC levied another fine of $3,712 in June 2013 over the PAC's failure to file a report after the November 2012 general election. It was filed more than six months late in May 2013, according to FEC records. In a letter to the FEC, Burkhart said an office move in October 2012 had left the PAC's records "temporarily inaccessible."


Scott Quenette 3 years, 10 months ago

SarahPAC donated $5000 to candidates and hundreds of thousands more on her. Who's complaining about that?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

What types of activities do some in this maze of right to lifers engage themselves against those who disagree? They kill doctors and blow up buildings which is nothing short of terrorism.

Some engage in verbal terrorism as they attack women for getting pregnant.

Do members of this movement actually believe God condones violent terrorism in any form?

With all of the choices that Planned Parenthood offers in abortion prevention I'm willing to wager that this approach prevents wayyyyyyyyyyy more abortions than all of the violent right to life groups combined.

Planned Parenthood has likely prevented millions of abortions over time. Where's this conversation?

Birth Control is abortion prevention absolutely.

Sex Education is abortion prevention.

Supporting No Birth Control and No Sex Education = more abortions.

How many know that Planned Parenthood is wayyyyy more than about abortion prevention?

Planned Parenthood locations are more like medical clinics which offer a variety of services for both male and female. A great source for low income human beings.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 10 months ago

It irritates OR that Trust Women existed as a PAC. It irritates OR that they disbanded.
It's kind of like all of those forced birthers demanding doctors have admitting privileges at hospitals and then getting their knickers in a twist when hospitals actually give them.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 10 months ago

Does this sound similar to the IRS/Tea Party hubbub? Gee, a private citizen group from the far, far right was able to complain to the GOVERNMENT, and got action. And still they complain. But when Democratic congressman want the IRS to take a closer look at Tea Party groups seeking tax exemption status at faster rate than rabbits breeding, that's out of bounds.

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