Texas Policy Evaluation Project Forced to Disclose Funding Source for Discredited Attacks on Pro-Life Laws
AUSTIN, TX -- Texas Alliance for Life recently obtained public documents from the University of Texas showing that the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TPEP) has only a single funding source, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a foundation with a history of supporting Planned Parenthood. Since its founding in 2011, TPEP has been highly critical of the Texas Legislature's recent laws to defund Planned Parenthood and increase informed consent and safety standards at abortion facilities.
Through a public information request, Texas Alliance for Life's staff attorney Erin Groff obtained documentation that the Buffett Foundation has paid $4,578,658 to TPEP as of October 8, 2015.
TPEP often testifies against pro-life legislation, and their publications have been cited as "expert testimony" by Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs challenging recent laws in federal court. Until recently, TPEP never disclosed who was funding these publications.
Most recently, TPEP released a study claiming that since the passage of House Bill 2, more women in Texas may perform abortions on themselves. This publication was quickly discredited by Dr. Michael New, associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute. "A closer look at TxPEP's study, purporting to show HB 2's harmful effects on women, reveals that it has numerous methodological shortcomings," he wrote in National Review. "In fact, it provides absolutely no credible evidence whatsoever that self-induced abortions have increased in Texas since HB 2 went into effect."
The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation has a long history of promoting abortion, with large donations to pro-abortion groups and subsidizing abortions at Planned Parenthood.
Finding the connection between TPEP and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation was only possible because of HB 1295, a measure passed in the 84th Legislature that was authored by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), sponsored by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), and amended by Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) and Rep. John Zerwas, M.D. (R-Richmond).
"I was happy to offer this commonsense legislation along with Sen. Hancock, Rep. Capriglione, and Dr. Zerwas. Organizations like TPEP use the credibility of Texas' universities to further their agendas," said Rep. King. "TPEP consistently opposes reasonable pro-life bills in the legislature and testifies in court against laws we have passed. Texans, as well as the Legislature, need to know who is funding this research."
"The Legislature has made clear its intention to make transparent how research is funded in Texas institutions of higher education," Zerwas said. "Texans have the right to know which organizations are financially supporting specific projects, and when the law is ignored and these groups are kept secret, the validity of the research results should be questioned."
"This is not the first time we've seen large donors use darkness to hide their identities from public scrutiny, particularly when they fund claims that are unsubstantiated and false," said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. "We thank these legislators for shining the light of transparency on TPEP so the public can judge whether their claims have merit. We believe they do not."