Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, and Yvette Clarke sent a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking them to investigate whether laws were broken by the Center for Medical Progress. This is the organization that released a selectively-edited video of a Planned Parenthood physician.
The Representatives issued a press release about the letter that begins,
According to press reports, the Center for Medical Progress created a fake limited liability corporation in advance of the meeting it recorded with a Planned Parenthood doctor. The video was captured by actors using fake identification to pose as buyers from that fake human biologics company. This elaborate scheme raises serious questions about whether any federal or state laws were violated in securing the LLC or the personal identification that were part of its execution.
The video was also filmed without the consent of the Planned Parenthood doctor, which may violate California law.
There are other questions about possible coordination between the Center for Medical Progress and Members of Congress who knew about the video weeks in advance of its release.
The text of the letter:
July 21, 2015
The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch The Honorable Kamala Harris
Attorney General Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice California Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW P.O. Box 944255
Washington, DC 20530 Sacramento, CA 94244
Dear Attorney General Lynch and Attorney General Harris:
We are writing to request that you investigate whether any laws were broken by individuals who participated in an elaborate, multi-year scheme to impersonate corporate officials from a fake biologics company, secretly filmed video of a Planned Parenthood physician in California, and make public portions of the video without her consent.
The video at issue was taken by an anti-abortion group based in Irvine, California called the Center for Medical Progress, which was founded by David Daleiden. According to the group’s website, the video was taken in California “with actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company.”
Press accounts regarding this incident have reported that this group created “fake identification” in order to falsely impersonate corporate executives and “gain access” to meetings with Planned Parenthood officials. It is unclear from these reports what forms of fake identification they created, whether any false statements were made on applications for this fake identification, whether this fake identification purported to be issued by or was processed through any state or federal agency, or whether any fraudulent information was transmitted electronically or through the mail relating to this fake identification.
Press accounts have also reported that Mr. Daleiden’s group filed paperwork to create a fake corporate entity. As one press account reported:
Daleiden also created a fake limited liability corporation (LLC) called Biomax Procurement Services in California, first filing paperwork in October 2013, so that he could pose as a biotech company interested in acquiring fetal tissue.
According to the official webpage maintained by the Secretary of State of California listing registered businesses in the state, Mr. Daleiden’s company filed this paperwork on October 11, 2013, listing an address in Norwalk, California, and the company is currently listed as “ACTIVE.” Other accounts have reported that this group created “a fake human tissue website that purports to provide services to stem cell researchers.”
It is unclear from these reports what specific paperwork Mr. Daleiden’s group filed, whether the address listed ever hosted any legitimate business concern, the extent to which this group may have submitted false statements to governmental entities, whether the group transmitted fraudulent information through the mail or electronic communications, or whether this fake company filed tax returns or other documents with the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agencies.
Finally, this group’s actions also may implicate California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, which prohibits recording individuals without their consent. According to press accounts, Mr. Daleiden is a “friend” of James O’Keefe, the individual who posed as a pimp and secretly videotaped ACORN staff in offices in California and other states.
On April 1, 2010, the Attorney General of California issued a report of its investigation into allegations relating to Mr. O’Keefe’s video, concluding:
The video releases were heavily edited to feature only the worst or most inappropriate statements of the various ACORN employees and to omit some of the most salient statements by O’Keefe and Giles.
Mr. O’Keefe and another individual who engaged in these activities were given immunity from criminal prosecution “in exchange for providing the full, unedited videotapes.” As a result, the Attorney General’s office “did not determine if they violated California’s Invasion of Privacy Act,” but warned that “[i]f the circumstances meet the requirements of the Act, the ACORN employees may be able to bring a private suit.”
In 2013, Mr. O’Keefe paid $100,000 in damages to settle the private suit brought by an ACORN employee for recording conversations without his consent in violation of California state law and portraying him untruthfully.
For all of these reasons, we request that you initiate an investigation to determine whether Mr. Daleiden, his organization, or anyone else who participated in, aided, or encouraged these deceptive activities may have violated federal or state laws.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Jan Schakowsky Member of Congress, Yvette D. Clarke Member of Congress, Jerrold Nadler Member of Congress, Zoe Lofgren Member of Congress