- Focused heavily on state legislative candidates, the governor, and attorney general, millions are flowing from one primary abortion provider in North Carolina.
- Planned Parenthood N.C. spent $1.5 million dollars in the last month leading up to the 2020 election.
As the N.C. Senate prepares to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill placing restrictions on abortions after the first trimester, the stakes are high for N.C. Democrats. Planned Parenthood of North Carolina is a major donor to state Democrats, spending nearly $10 million since 2016 on their legislative- and executive-branch campaigns.
For comparison, the National Rifle Association Victory PAC spent less than a 10th of that in independent expenditures in N.C. since 2016, with $162,510 spent in 2016; $277,381 in 2020, and $31,942 spent in 2022.
Gov. Roy Cooper has pulled out the political stops in the days since S.B. 20, the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, passed the N.C. General Assembly on May 4. Ahead of vetoing the bill, Cooper traveled to swing Republican districts to pressure lawmakers through their constituents, but did not attempt to meet with the lawmakers directly. On Saturday, Cooper and his abortion-access activists organized a veto rally to celebrate. He signed and stamped the veto to cheers and shouts from the audience on Bicentennial Mall.
Follow the Money
The Planned Parenthood PAC announced in October 2022 that it was pouring $5 million into North Carolina’s midterm elections as part of a nationwide $50 million campaign, but that level of spending started long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobb’s decision last summer, which overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that said abortion access was protected in the U.S. Constitution.
“Planned Parenthood has been a major force in North Carolina’s elections, particularly in presidential years,” said Jim Stirling, research fellow at the John Locke Foundation. “While their state-board reports indicate they have spent $10 million since 2016, this is likely only a portion of what they have spent.”
The PPNC Pac has been a “max-out donor” to Cooper and Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein, giving $5,400 each year from 2016 through 2022 in direct donations to each of the two. But the independent expenditures reveal the real numbers.
According to reports from the N.C. State Board of Elections, PPNC spent $4,118,944.70 in the 2016 elections, the majority of which was to oppose Republicans Dan Forest and Pat McCrory, support Cooper and Stein, and influence state legislative elections.
In the 2018 midterms, the organization spent less, at $292,314.65. In 2020, Planned Parenthood reports spending $3,227,573.74. Details are not complete in their 2022 spending, but including their fourth-quarter report, Planned Parenthood spent $1,907,552.23.
Independent expenditures range from printing for door tags, television or digital ads, time spent by their staff for candidates, and hiring professional canvassers to knock on neighborhood front doors for or against certain candidates.
Planned Parenthood N.C. spent $1.5 million dollars in the last month leading up to the 2020 election, focused in part on opposing six state House Republicans: Reps. Erin Pare, R-Wake; Kristin Baker, R-Cabarrus; Stephen Ross, R-Alamance; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; Republican John Szoka, R-Cumberland; and former Republican lawmaker Perrin Jones, who was defeated by Democrat Brian Farkas.
Bradford was targeted again by Democrats just last week. He is one of four Republicans who Gov. Roy Cooper spent time and effort to pressure over the last 10 days to uphold his veto. Cooper visited Bradford’s district and met with constituents about S.B. 20. Cooper also visited districts for former Democrat-turned-Republican state Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Sen. Mike Lee, R-New Hanover; and Sen. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover.
PPNC has spent nearly $85,000 since 2016 to defeat Lee, $76,000 of which was spent just in 2022. More than $30,000 of PPNC money went to defeat Davis. However, Bradford has had the most money put against him by PPNC, at $180,000 since 2016.
The Senate vote to override the bill placing restrictions on abortions past the first trimester is expected to be held on Tuesday, May 16.