Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are demanding answers from the maker of a series of anti-Planned Parenthood videos, whom they accuse of potentially breaking laws to target the women’s health organization.
The lawmakers sent a stern letter Tuesday to committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) complaining that the majority had stood by as David Daleiden, the mastermind behind the videos, stonewalled repeated requests for information. By contrast, they said, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards appeared in person to be grilled at a hearing, and her group has produced 20,000 documents.
“Continuing to shield Mr. Daleiden and his organization from accountability creates the unfortunate impression that the Committee is more interested in attacking Planned Parenthood than in an even-handed investigation of potential violations of the law,” said the letter, signed by 17 members.
The letter comes after three separate congressional committees held hearings over the videos, which purport to show proof that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from a program designed to allow women to voluntarily donate material leftover from an abortion for research.
The videos show officials apparently negotiating over prices and casually discussing abortion techniques, and have fueled efforts on Capitol Hill to cut off federal funding for the group. Planned Parenthood officials have called the videos misleading and said they have not violated any laws.
The Democrats contend in their letter that there is evidence that Daleiden may have broken laws “including filing false documents with government agencies, falsely impersonating a legitimate business concern, soliciting charitable contributions under false pretenses, and secretly recording Planned Parenthood officials without their consent.”
The letter details their numerous efforts to glean information from Daleiden through a series of letters, which have gone unanswered, they said. They accuse Daleiden of failing to produce documents subpoenaed by Chaffetz as well.
They have issued a set of 21 questions that they want Chaffetz to demand that Daleiden answer.
At a hearing last week, Chaffetz suggested that there was no point calling Daleiden to testify until the committee could view all his footage. Daleiden has turned over some of his recordings to the committee, but has been barred by a federal judge from showing anyone footage he recorded at the National Abortion Federation’s annual meetings.
On Tuesday, Daleiden issued a statement via e-mail: “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies in the committee minority don’t know what they don’t know. We’ve been complying with the subpoena in full. CMP follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work and the allegations from the minority are based on inaccurate and outdated speculation about our investigative methods. “