Houston grand jury investigates Planned Parenthood, indicts … activists

posted at 10:41 am on January 26, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Talk about shooting the messengers! Or at the very least, taking aim at them. A Houston grand jury investigated the activities exposed in the undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress that showed Planned Parenthood executives haggling over the price of bodies and organs from abortions in their clinics, and decided to punish … the people who exposed it. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt from CMP face misdemeanor charges relating to the sale of fetal tissue and tampering with government records:

A Houston grand jury that was investigating accusations of criminal misconduct against Planned Parenthood on Monday instead indicted the leader of an anti-abortion group that recorded covert videos of the organization’s employees.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said David Daleiden, the director of the Center for Medical Progress, faces a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to buying human tissue.

Sandra Merritt, one of Daleiden’s employees, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The indictment was curious silent on how exactly CMP manipulated government records, according to the Washington Post. The other charge appears to be based on the cover used by CMP to do their reporting — claiming they wanted to traffic in fetal tissue. If so, that’s a rather curious application of the law, since it was clearly not CMP’s intent to facilitate such sales but to expose them.

On top of that, this technique gets used by law enforcement and journalists every day. Would Chris Hansen face indictment for trafficking in child sex for his excellent series of stings that captured numerous pedophiles? Do narcotics officers face charges in Houston for offering to buy or sell drugs in order to catch criminals in the act?

CMP wondered why, if the grand jury was punishing one party for negotiating sales regardless of intent, other parties in the negotiations weren’t indicted as well:

In a statement issued Monday evening, the Center for Medical Progress said it “uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

Perhaps that might be in part because one of the Harris County prosecutors serves as a board member for the Planned Parenthood clinic at the heart of this matter. LifeNews reported on the potential conflict of interest last August:

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has announced that her office will start a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood. The announcement came after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked for the DA’s office to open an immediate criminal investigation. …

Lauren Reeder is a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s criminal family law division. She apparently notified District Attorney Devon Anderson of her role with Planned Parenthood last week. Reeder is listed as a non-compensated “Director” on the990 Tax Form for 2014 filed by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Anderson told the Houston Chronicle that Reeder “will not be involved in any manner in this investigation. If at any time in the future, reliable and credible information is brought to my attention that would question our ability to continue to perform a fair, thorough and independent investigation of this matter due to her board membership, I will revisit the issue of seeking the appointment of an independent prosecutor and act accordingly.”

Indicting the messengers might be a pretty good indication of a lack of “independent investigation.” This looks like a cooked process, not dissimilar to Travis County grand jury actions over the past decade or so. Live Action’s Lila Rose demanded a special prosecutor:

“David Daleiden and his team have done a tremendous public service by exposing the horrific crimes against humanity that Planned Parenthood hides behind closed doors. CMP’s investigation forced Planned Parenthood, a tax-funded billion dollar corporation, to admit it was harvesting and selling aborted baby parts.

“The district attorney’s office was asked months ago about recusing itself from this case because one of its prosecutors serves as a board member of the Planned Parenthood affiliate involved in the case. It is unacceptable that the office did not recuse itself to eliminate any and all questions of potential bias. A special prosecutor should be appointed now to review this entire investigation.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott pledged that the state’s investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast will continue regardless of the grand jury’s actions. Perhaps Abbott might want to take a look at the conflict of interest in this indictment as well.

Update, 1/27: An unnamed reader with significant experience in the field cautions about the “conflict of interest” charge on Reeder. “Harris County probably has over a hundred prosecutors, and Reeder’s just a drone who prosecutes deadbeats for child support,” this person tells me. “She isn’t in the division that would have authority over this, and would be kicked out of her job by the (pro-life) district attorney if she had anything to do with it.” However, while the indictment of Daleiden and Merritt “seems odd,” according to the source, Reeder is almost certainly unrelated to it.


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Comment pages: 1 2

I had to find my conditioner. I love what blood baths do for my skin but they are kind of hard on the follicles.
Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 1:41 PM

You are a disgusting PoS and the one thing I look forward to is knowing that as long as you are unrepentant for your repulsive behavior you will spend eternity in hell.

njrob on January 26, 2016 at 2:45 PM

It must come as a rousing vindication to you when an investigation finds that a clinic not performing abortions is not selling fetal tissue.

The Schaef on January 26, 2016 at 2:41 PM

It comes as a vindication that you’re batting .000 in trying to slime PP.

PS- wasn’t texas one of those states where you claimed PP was selling fetal tissue?

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:08 PM

The videos show the murder of a live infant and yes the videos do show PP working out the details of selling organs. Moreover the videos have been audited independently and verified.

dogsoldier on January 26, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Grand juries and state investigators disagree with you.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:09 PM

You are a disgusting PoS and the one thing I look forward to is knowing that as long as you are unrepentant for your repulsive behavior you will spend eternity in hell.

njrob on January 26, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Terrifying. Maybe that’s why I mock your self righteousness?

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:09 PM

So, you’re just pretending that it’s true because you think it helps your argument?

blink on January 26, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Swing and a miss.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:10 PM

The videos quite clearly show PP personnel discussing their sales and discussing their desire to sell more.

blink on January 26, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Funny then that no investigation has reached that conclusion. You sure you aren’t reading into it what you want to be there?

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:11 PM

This is interesting. PP can escape prosecution of a crime that they committed on tape. But, Hillary Clinton has evidence of crimes stacked on top of each other, and no indictment is forthcoming. Interesting legal system we have now. I guess it is true that we have an elite progressive privilege system of law in this country now.

Techster64 on January 26, 2016 at 3:17 PM

The videos quite clearly show PP personnel discussing their sales and discussing their desire to sell more.

blink on January 26, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Funny then that no investigation has reached that conclusion. You sure you aren’t reading into it what you want to be there?

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:11 PM

We do not need an investigation to conclude what we clearly saw on video. The issue is why the judicial system is not doing something about it.

Techster64 on January 26, 2016 at 3:19 PM

This is interesting. PP can escape prosecution of a crime that they committed on tape. But, Hillary Clinton has evidence of crimes stacked on top of each other, and no indictment is forthcoming. Interesting legal system we have now. I guess it is true that we have an elite progressive privilege system of law in this country now.

Techster64 on January 26, 2016 at 3:17 PM

Which suggests that what you think is evidence may in fact not be. This dovetails nicely with the long history of the right wing echo chamber lying unashamedly.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:25 PM

We do not need an investigation to conclude what we clearly saw on video. The issue is why the judicial system is not doing something about it.

Techster64 on January 26, 2016 at 3:19 PM

Because you didn’t see what you convinced yourself that you saw.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:26 PM

Seems to me that if they found that PP wasn’t selling baby parts then it would be impossible say that the journalists were dealing in baby parts. At the very least, both parties would either be exonerated or indicted. Here we have a case where “baby parts dealers” were engaging in “let’s make a deal” and PP didn’t show them the door, so they should be indicted as well.

bigGwillie on January 26, 2016 at 3:35 PM

We do not need an investigation to conclude what we clearly saw on video. The issue is why the judicial system is not doing something about it.

Techster64. Jan 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

In our judicial system, we rely on impartial grand juries to hear the evidence and determine whether there is cause to bring criminal charges. You have no idea what evidence they saw and heard and you don’t even care. You’re ready to round up the lynch mob regardless. I sincerely hope you never get picked for jury duty.

cam2 on January 26, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Move on to an issue that matters like taxes or jobs. Never going to change this debate on abortion, it’s an issue that impacts so few in real life. We waste so much political capital on an issue like this.

EVSCBT on January 26, 2016 at 3:53 PM

PS- wasn’t texas one of those states where you claimed PP was selling fetal tissue?

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 3:08 PM

Did I make this claim?

Citation?

The Schaef on January 26, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Can someone please kick this Tlaloc slimeball off the comments, this person is living in a dream world. Clearly he is trolling for PP.

As to the Houston system of justice…. Looks like the Left’s version of McCarthyism. Shut down those who don’t support your agenda. This is going to get thrown out so fast that the DA’s head will spin with some entertaining comments from the court. This is just what the Conservatives need to get them out in force in November.

triumphus04 on January 26, 2016 at 4:08 PM

triumphus04 Jan 26, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Hate to upset your world view, but the DA is a Republican who was appointed by Rick Perry.

cam2 on January 26, 2016 at 4:25 PM

The people living in a dream world are all those who believe that PP did anything wrong. Those videos have been completely debunked but conservative activists see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear. Well, too bad, you lose again. Maybe someday you’ll wake up and see that the large majority of Americans support PP. And it’s way past time for someone to charge that slimeball Daleiden. Probably nothing will come of it but it’s nice to see an official body stand up and say stop.

independentvoice on January 26, 2016 at 4:28 PM

No they aren’t facts and they’ve been refuted over and over again. The videos don’t show PP selling organs despite the endless claims of CMP. Abortion murders nobody.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 2:39 PM

I can only guess from this that you’ve either never watched the videos, or understand language very flexibly, perhaps from studying under Bill Clinton? :p

We don’t pursue abortionists for murder, so I would at least concede that point.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 4:54 PM

Isn’t this DA the same one that exonerated Douglas Karpen?

BobM88 on January 26, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Indeed it is. Something seems fishy in Harris County:

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said, “I respect the grand jury’s efforts on this difficult case, but I do not want anyone to reach the wrong conclusion from this no-bill. Notwithstanding the outcome of this case, this office is ready and willing to prosecute doctors who perform abortions that violate Texas law. In this case, however, an independent grand jury concluded, after lengthy investigation and deliberation, that the evidence does not justify an indictment.”

Grand Jury Decision of Dr. Douglas Karpen

BobM88 on January 26, 2016 at 5:05 PM

false and hostile arguments

verbaluce on January 26, 2016 at 1:12 PM

It must suck for you that the arguments weren’t false.

blink on January 26, 2016 at 1:50 PM

No…it must suck for you that they were, and that the grand jury absolved PP.
And in Texas, of all places.

verbaluce on January 26, 2016 at 5:19 PM

Abortion murders nobody.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 2:39 PM

I can only guess from this that you’ve either never watched the videos, or understand language very flexibly, perhaps from studying under Bill Clinton? :p

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 4:54 PM

Black babies aren’t people in Tlaloc’s eyes.

GrumpyOldFart on January 26, 2016 at 5:55 PM

The Houston-Austin Librul Axis is totally out of step with the rest of the state and country. They don’t believe in the law, but in how they can use the courts to go around the law.These are the pukes that called a secret grand jury to indite the sitting Republican governor because he vetoed a bill. As long as you have the academic liars in Austin and the minorities with their hands out in Houston, this will keep happening. This will fail when it reaches the real, non dhimocraptic party controlled courts.

Old Country Boy on January 26, 2016 at 6:02 PM

So, if the law goes after those who expose evil, what meaning does the law have?
fossten on January 26, 2016 at 10:50 AM

This is the New, Global America.

The law means exactly what those in power desire it to mean at any given time.

Solaratov on January 26, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Old Country Boy on January 26, 2016 at 6:02 PM

The Harris County DA, Devon Anderson, is a conservative Republican appointed by Rick Perry. Other than that, your theory makes perfect sense.

cam2 on January 26, 2016 at 6:15 PM

The Harris County DA, Devon Anderson, is a conservative Republican appointed by Rick Perry. Other than that, your theory makes perfect sense.

cam2 on January 26, 2016 at 6:15 PM

That’s true, but she also no-billed Douglas Karpen. Coincidentally Karpen’s Defense Attorney was one of her larger political contributors. Are you implying a conservative Republican can’t be corrupt?

BobM88 on January 26, 2016 at 6:27 PM

She’s not conservative. Cam2, tlaloc and the rest of the left on here are apologists foe infanticide.

I’m glad I don’t know these trash in real kife. I’d spit in their faces for how they eagerly dismember the unborn.

njrob on January 26, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Cam2, tlaloc and the rest of the left on here are apologists foe infanticide.

I’m glad I don’t know these trash in real kife. I’d spit in their faces for how they eagerly dismember the unborn.

njrob on January 26, 2016 at 6:57 PM

There’s nothing cooler than a keyboard commando, njrob!

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:32 PM

njrob on January 26, 2016 at 6:57 PM

I’d respond, but I’m too busy dismembering the unborn.

cam2 on January 26, 2016 at 9:47 PM

There’s nothing cooler than a keyboard commando, njrob!

Tiaioc on January 26, 2016 at 8:32 PM

Whatever chump. We know exactly what you are and we know you’d be cowering in the corner if any of your posing on here ever needed to be backed up. You’re pathetic.

njrob on January 27, 2016 at 12:34 AM

Do you always make claims that you can’t back up? What investigation concluded that PP personnel weren’t even discussing body parts?

You really are an idiot.

blink on January 26, 2016 at 11:45 PM

In the 14+ months since I’ve started taking note of his absurdities (they go back much further but good luck tracking post history on this site), I’ve seen him give direct answers when challenged exactly three times.

Two of those times he was forced to recant something he’d gotten factually wrong.

The third time was about what Kermit Gosnell did that caused him to use the term “reprehensible”. He gave a response considerable enough to close the subject and move on, but it’s notable that he criticized Gosnell for basically everything except the actual things he went to jail for (multiple counts of murder).

And even then, he decided to use that scenario to claim victimhood, that he was not treated fairly and reasonably with regards to the discussion. When given the opportunity to set all the rules and terms for discussion so that we could do everything his way, he deliberately ignored the question for a period of months, and explicitly admitted doing so.

So two things you can always count on from Tlaloc, he will always make absurd claims, and he will never support them with facts, particularly not his character attacks on other posters. I have certainly left myself wide open to be proven wrong on any number of occasions, standing by what I said and asking for a disproving fact. He could have made me a fool a dozen times over, just by backing up his own words.

14 months later, still waiting.

The Schaef on January 27, 2016 at 10:12 AM

These must be some of those Texas values Cruz was referring to in the last debate.

earlgrey on January 27, 2016 at 1:50 PM

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