Attorney General Vows to Investigate the Group Behind Planned Parenthood Attacks

Planned-Parenthood-video

Friday we reported on the accusations raised by former Davis High grad David Daleiden, who released a hidden video claiming to show that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling tissues from aborted fetuses. The video’s release went viral, leading politicians and anti-abortion activists to seize the initiative.

The video shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. In fact, the full video of the lunch meeting is over two hours long. It shows a very different picture than critics claims.

The New York Times writes, “Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue.”

Much to the chagrin of several right wing publications, California Attorney General Kamala Harris will review whether the nonprofit organization behind the videos violated state law, her office said in a letter Friday.

“We will carefully review the allegations raised in your letter to determine whether there were any violations of California law,” the Attorney General wrote in reply to Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler and Yvette Clarke, who cited reports that Mr. Daleiden filed paperwork to create a phony entity.

“This office will also review any materials filed by the Center for Medical Progress with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts to determine whether the organization violated laws including, but not limited to, our registration and reporting requirements.”

“I am deeply concerned about the allegations that federal and state laws were violated in an attempt to attack Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides critical health care services to more than three million men and women each year, and that the attack was coordinated by conservative activists who want to discredit Planned Parenthood and its work,” Representative Clarke said in a statement. “I urge Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Honorable Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, to initiate a full investigation into this incident to determine if any fraud or other illegal activities were committed.”

The Huffington Post reported on Friday that the anti-abortion group “appears to be a dummy nonprofit that may have deceived the Internal Revenue Service and the public about its mission.” Slate reports that the Center for Medical Progress appears to be nothing more than a front organization for the anti-abortion group Live Action. This is not how the IRS understood the relationship when the group applied for tax-exempt status two years ago.

According to new research by the Bridge Project, the policy arm of the progressive group American Bridge, the IRS granted the Center for Medical Progress tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2013 under the classification code G92, which applies to biomedicine charities.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion legislators are using the controversy to go on the offensive against Planned Parenthood.

House Republicans launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood immediately following the release of the first video, with Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul vowing that they would attempt to force a vote this week on an amendment to the highway bill that would strip all federal Title X family planning funds from Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.

Senator Paul said the videos should motivate Republicans to focus more on abortion. “I think Republicans have run away from the abortion issue,” he said. “This is baby parts we’re talking about.”

From a local angle, a letter sent by attorneys from Planned Parenthood indicated that the head of the Center for Medical Progress is David Daleiden. Mr. Daleiden is a 2007 Davis High School Graduate. His mother is Gina Daleiden, a former Davis School Board member and current Chief Deputy to Supervisor Jim Provenza.

According to the Planned Parenthood attorney, “Over the last eight years, Mr. Daleiden has participated in at least 10 separate attacks on Planned Parenthood involving gaining access to our health centers and offices under false pretenses, taping staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge on at least 65 occasions (not counting this latest fraud), and misleading the public with heavily edited tapes and flat-out false charges.”

Three years ago, Mr. Daleiden allegedly “created what we now know to be a phony company called Biomax Procurement Services, which held itself out as a legitimate tissue procurement organization. Biomax then embarked on a campaign of corporate espionage with Planned Parenthood and its affiliates as its target.”

The letter continues, “The sham company used the false pretense of seeking tissue for research purposes to gain access to our facilities and staff. These fraudulent efforts appear to have been meticulously planned.” To cite one example, “Biomax set up exhibits at our National Medical Conference and our National Conference over the last couple of years.”

As indicated above, Mr. Daleiden engaged in secretly recording Planned Parenthood staff and patients at least 65 times over the last eight years, potentially yielding thousands of hours of recordings.

In a statement last week, Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that “our donation programs — like any other high-quality health care providers — follow all laws and ethical guidelines” and that “Planned Parenthood stands behind our work to help women and families donate tissue for medical research when they wish to.”

The Times notes, “Researchers use fetal tissue to study and develop treatments for diseases and conditions like H.I.V., hepatitis, congenital heart defects, retinal degeneration and Parkinson’s. Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood is certainly not the only collector of fetal tissue — clinics associated with universities also supply tissue for research.”

The Times concludes, “The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women’s health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    Here’s another video where the PP representative says they don’t want to be accused of selling fetal tissue and not trying to profit from it but at the same time she seems to be negotiating price.  The price should be set already if it’s just PP’s costs involved so why the negotiation?  The PP rep also jokingly comments about wanting a Lamborghini.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjCs_gvImyw

      1. Matt Williams

        DP, I’m unclear why costs would be subject to negotiation. I agree that they will be variable based on the origin location of the tissue, its destination, the method of transportation desired by the recipient, and the then-current tariff of the common carrier being used for the transportation, but wouldn’t the results of that multi-faceted variability be subject to disclosure rather than negotiation?

          1. Matt Williams

            I’m not sure what you mean.

            Are you referring to direct costs vs. indirect costs?

            For the record, wresting with how to deal with indirect costs is a major challenge for the City of Davis in its accounting.

    1. Matt Williams

      BP, is she negotiating price, or is she responding to the changeable monetary offers that David Daleiden is making as part of his sting efforts?

      Since I have come to the belief that it is wise, fair, transparent, and balanced to conduct simultaneous investigations of both sides of this controversy, I have not personally reviewed the tapes at any kind of granular level. I leave that kind of review to the investigators.

  2. Tia Will

    DP

    why is the price set if it’s just the costs – aren’t costs variable and subject to negotiation?”

    The price is not set. In neither of the tapes of the two representatives does either of them state that the cost is set. Both clearly state that the cost is variable depending on the location of the affiliate, the number of procedures performed, the number of employees involved with frequently varies because of factors such as state laws, the space available for managing the specimens, and a number of different variables involved in obtaining patient consent, actually obtaining the specimen, processing the specimen for shipping, and shipping the specimen. Basically all of the factors that you would anticipate would effect cost in getting an item from point a to point b. So yes, the costs are variable which is why you hear Dr. Nucaatola making a rough estimate of anywhere from $ 30 – $100 dollars.  From my direct experience, this is probably insufficient to cover costs, let alone make any kind of profit.

    DP

    there may also be the factor of which costs to cover”

    Definitely. As Dr. Nucatola makes clear during the 2+ hour version of the luncheon, there is clearly the factor that different affiliates may wish to handle the process differently. A few examples. Some affiliates might prefer that their own medical assistants handle all of the counseling from the counseling for the procedure with its consent, to the counseling regarding the option for tissue donation with its separate consent. Other affiliates might prefer that the consent for the actual procedure be handled by the medical assistant while the tissue donation portion of the consent be handled by the tissue transfer company. Some affiliates may not have enough space for an additional person in their lab processing the specimens and therefore would prefer that their own staff handle the specimens. Others with more room may prefer that the transfer company take over the handling of the specimen as soon as it arrives in the lab.

     

    Matt

    but wouldn’t the results of that multi-faceted variability be subject to disclosure rather than negotiation?” 

    Only if it were set by the national organization, which it is not. This is a matter for the decision of the individual affiliate.

    BP, is she negotiating price, or is she responding to the changeable monetary offers that David Daleiden is making as part of his sting efforts?” 

    She is clearly not negotiating price as she states clearly that she could not do since the affiliates are not bound by a national standard. By watching the entire two hours it becomes clear that although she states repeatedly that this is not a for profit venture and that it is patient driven, not initiated by Planned Parenthood,  nor intended to create a revenue stream, the two interviewers keep circling back to this point in order to try to force a statement that they can then edit to their advantage.

    If anyone is interested in really knowing what actually happened, I would encourage watching the entire two hours even though there is some very graphic details that you may not want to hear. If you would like to know the substance without having to hear some possibly upsetting details ( invariably introduced by the interviewers by the way), I am planning on doing a more extensive presentation of the interview with direct quotes and approximate times of when they occur on the tape. So stay tuned if you are interested in something more than a few sound bites provided out of context by the Daleiden group.

  3. Dave Hart

    Mr. Daleiden, a child who never had to struggle financially and grew up in relative privilege here in Davis, has exhibited some of the creepiest political behavior ever seen on the national scene.  I’m curious if there are any people out there who unwittingly donated to his phony “Biomax” company who would now have a basis to sue him personally for damages.  Or maybe all the donations for his “company” of three people came from the Koch brothers who lavishly fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that little David attended this weekend http://bit.ly/1OIq4b0 to bask in his glory.  Certainly, his phony company is not involved in biomedical research and was organized solely for the purpose of carrying out secret activities with the specific mission of destroying another non-profit organization with both a legitimate and public mission.  Disgusting.  What more is there to this story?  Not much.

    1. Matt Williams

      For those not familiar with BioMax (referenced in Dave Hart’s comment above) here is information from a July 21, 2015 NY Times article. Something that adds further intrigue to this whole story is that there is a Munich, Germany based medical informatics company named biomax (see http://www.biomax.com/ ) that appears to have been in existence since 1997, and there is another company US Biomax ( see http://www.biomax.us/index.php ) that has existed in the US since 2004. Intriguing that there wasn’t a name conflict that surfaced in the three years since Daleiden formed his Biomax.

      In 2013, Mr. Daleiden not only formed an anti-abortion group, the Sacramento-based Center for Medical Progress, but also filed state papers to create a Norwalk, Calif.-based company, BioMax Procurement Services, as part of his undercover ruse. BioMax was described as a company that “provides tissue and specimen procurement for academic and private bioscience researchers,” and that is committed to helping “facilitate world-changing discoveries.”

      The Internal Revenue Service granted the Center for Medical Progress tax-exempt status, allowing donors to deduct contributions, as a nonprofit under the agency’s category for “Diseases, Disorders, Medical Disciplines: Biomedicine, Bioengineering.” A separate category applies to anti-abortion groups.

      Mr. Daleiden said he had received a total $120,000 over three years from 12 to 15 “very resourceful, committed individuals” who “believed in the mission and wanted to see it done.” He would not name them, and there is no record that the center filed federal 990 tax forms that might identify donors.

      The center’s mission is not the one claimed for BioMax of spurring medical discoveries. Instead, the website defines Mr. Daleiden’s Human Capital Project as a 30-month effort at “documenting Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of body parts from aborted fetuses.”

      Correction: July 21, 2015 — An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to David Daleiden’s fake company, BioMax Procurement Services. The company is not tax-exempt; it is his advocacy group, the Center for Medical Progress, that is tax-exempt.

  4. Dave Hart

    I also think of the contrast between liberal activists like Daniel Ellsberg, Eric Snowden or the Swords to Ploughshares activists who engage in technically illegal actions to prevent a larger harm (as Dalaiden might erroneously suggest) and how none of them were backed by the upper 0.1% business elite.  Yes, they took advantage of secrecy to gather their evidence or plan their demonstration but only so long as it took to conduct their public protest or to release the unedited totality of what they believed to be immoral action by government or businesses.  There is a real difference in the resulting impact because there is a difference in the fundamental morality and ethics involved.  In the instances of these truly moral groups and individuals, they aimed to present the entire and comprehensive record of moral misdeeds that stand on their own to convict the perpetrators.  That is the difference.

    1. Barack Palin

      LOL, so you are all for liberal “technically illegal investigative actions”, as you put it, as long as you agree with their cause and think them moral from your point of view.  But in turn you want to demean Mr. Daleiden who I’m sure he and many others would think that his cause is moral.  By the way, Mr. Daleiden has released the videos in their entirety, he also states that there are more to come.

      1. Matt Williams

        By the way, Mr. Daleiden has released the videos in their entirety, he also states that there are more to come.

        BP, here’s a question for you. What is the likelihood that you will watch the full two hours of the videos that we currently have access to? With that question answered, here’s a second question. What is the likelihood that you will watch even one minute of the videos that qualify as “more to come”?

        My personal answers to those two questions are … zero likelihood and zero likelihood.

        Mr. Daleiden has taken a page from the Perry Mason school of legal/political argument. No matter how many times prosecutor Hamilton Burger jumped up to yell “I object!!!” followed by the judge sustaining the objection, the “bell had already been rung” and in the minds of the jury “that bell could not be unrung.” Mr. Dalieden has selected specific sound bytes and like Perry Mason presented them to the court of public opinion. He has very carefully scripted a very specific ringing of the bell, with the full knowledge that once rung, that bell can not be unrung. In my opinion Mr. Daleiden has shown himself to be both a politician and a public relations professional … and his release of the videos in their entirety, and his statements that there are more to come have little of substance to do with his initial volley of selected specific sound bytes.

        JMHO

      2. Dave Hart

        No, Miss Palin, I am arguing that “protest” with highly selective editing of “the proof” backed by billionaires carries less personal risk and has the specific intention of skewing the complete picture.  I concede little David believes in his cause, but what is different is the generous helping of hubris that is part of “protest” and “expose” from the right that seeks to deny, in this case, women’s freedom to choose what happens with their own bodies.  Simply asserting one’s own morality means nothing.  Slave owners considered themselves morally superior to their slaves.

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