Ruiz Gives $2,600 From Controversial Donations to Planned Parenthood

NRCC asked congressman to return contributions from two men facing criminal complaint

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., returned donations from former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developer Richard Meaney to Planned Parenthood. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Raul Ruiz gave money from two men facing charges to Planned Parenthood, despite the National Republican Congressional Committee’s call last week for him to return the donations.

The money was from former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developer Richard Meaney made to Ruiz’s campaign for past elections — $300 from Pougnet in 2012, and $2,300 from Meaney in 2014.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced charges against Pougnet, Meaney, and the other developer John Wessman on Thursday morning as part of a public corruption conspiracy after an investigation that began in 2015.

The California Democrat made the decision to donate the money to Planned Parenthood immediately after the criminal complaint was filed, Ruiz campaign consultant Roy Behr told The Desert Sun.

Defunding Planned Parenthood has been on Congressional Republicans’ to-do list since House Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced in early January that cutting off federal funds to the organization will be included as part of a bill to repeal Obamacare.

“If Congressional Republicans really care about ethics, shouldn’t they investigate Russian interference in American elections?” Behr asked.

The NRCC announced early this month that it would target Ruiz’s seat in 2018, along with another 35 Democratic-held districts.

[Fight for the House Centers on Five States]

Ruiz won his third term with 62 percent of the vote, winning by 24 percentage points over state Sen. Jeff Stone in 2016.

Jack Pandol, NRCC western press secretary,  said in an email to the newspaper, “Raul Ruiz is still refusing to return this dirty money, so it’s laughable that he’s pretending to take the moral high ground.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.