The top Democrat on a House committee examining Planned Parenthood’s baby organ trafficking is riddled with conflicts of interest, a new analysis shows. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL — handpicked for the committee by House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi — has a long history of running interference for abortionists and their allies. A history that includes plum consulting gigs for her felon husband and more than $89,000 in contributions to her campaign coffers.
Hours into the second hearing of the House Select Panel on Infant Lives on April 20, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-WI, directed witnesses to discuss a couple of pieces of evidence. One was a brochure — obtained at a national abortion conference — from a company that purchases fetal body parts. The other was from a website of a company that purchases fetal body parts, announcing financial benefits to clinics that provide fetal tissue. It is against federal law to financially benefit from the aborted baby organ trade. Some witnesses testified that the law has not been enforced in decades.
Republicans on the committee blacked out information identifying who made the marketing materials, following Democrats’ insistence that disclosing identities would be risky for those involved in the trafficking of fetal parts. Even so, Democrats spent much of their allotted time during the hearing complaining that the Republicans had protected the identity of those involved in the fetal body part trade.
The Democrats’ first witness was Fay Clayton, a senior partner of Robinson Curley & Clayton, a boutique Chicago law firm. Clayton is a strident abortion rights defender, having been the National Organization for Women’s lead counsel in that organization’s bid to use federal racketeering laws to silence and bankrupt the pro-life movement in the 1990s. Her statement to the committee referenced her work in 2000 for a fetal organ harvester who worked out of a Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinic in Kansas. Another fetal organ harvester working at the same clinic had been busted on undercover video, bragging about how much money he made from the fetal organ trade.
But as Clayton looked at the evidence, she began making conflicting statements. On the one hand, she said she assumed the documents Duffy wanted to discuss were faked. On the other, she said they didn’t mention anything about fetal tissue. Then she said she thought the documents distributed at an abortion conference promising financial profits to clinics were really talking about adult tissue. She said it was “clear it’s talking about adult tissue.”
Clayton’s claims were bizarre. The marketing material targeting abortion clinics explicitly mentioned fetal tissue and fetal DNA. A fellow witness on the panel interjected, noting the brochure specifically called for fetal tissue. Duffy wryly asked, “If this document is being sent out [at an] abortion conference, is your testimony that this is referring to adult tissue?”
Clayton said she didn’t know.
When Duffy asked his final question, “Has anyone on this panel made any contributions to anyone on this committee? Raise your hand,” the panel chairman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, cut him off for time.
Even without knowing the answer, it was an interesting question. The Democrats had two witnesses; the Republicans had three. Other than Clayton, the witnesses had clear perspectives. No one else had been willing to deny reality under questioning. So was Duffy suggesting something about Clayton?
Ah, Chicago Politics
Both Clayton and Schakowsky live in Evanston, Illinois, it turns out. Schakowsky, who has been in office since 1999, is married to Robert Creamer, a community organizer and national progressive organizer. His firm, Democracy Partners, runs progressive issue campaigns. More on that in a bit. For now we’ll note he was convicted of federal tax violations and bank fraud in 2005. He made a plea deal after being indicted on 16 counts of bank fraud in a check-kiting scheme that led banks to experience shortfalls of $2.3 million.
And sure enough, Clayton is a donor to Schakowsky. She’s given $6,100 to the congresswoman, according to Open Secrets. Her husband, Lowell Sachnoff, a big Democratic activist in his own right, has given another $4,250 to Schakowsky, according to Open Secrets.
And there’s more. Clayton and her husband hosted in their home a swanky fundraising party for Schakowsky’s husband as he headed off to the federal penitentiary.
Clayton is a partisan and major donor to Planned Parenthood, but she isn’t an inside-the-beltway lobbyist, throwing money at every politician in the country. Rather, she and her husband appear to be friends with the Schakowsky family, hosting fundraisers in their own home.
Schakowsky failed to disclose this personal relationship and the level of money raised by Clayton and her husband when she had Clayton testify. It is difficult to believe that Clayton would say anything independent of what Schakowsky wanted her to say on the panel.
And what do we know about what Schakowsky wanted said on the panel? Even though members are tasked with investigating the fetal body part trade, Schakowsky has fought all investigatory efforts and called for the investigations to be shut down. At the first hearing, she suggested that the select committee be “disbanded” simply because the undercover journalist who first exposed Planned Parenthood officials’ role in the trade had been indicted — not even convicted — for using a fake ID. It was a disingenuous claim for a member of Congress whose husband recently got out of federal prison after pleading guilty to felonies.
Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, chose Schakowsky for the job of
obstructing leading efforts to investigate the fetal organ trade. Pro-life advocates noticed that in addition to Schakowsky, the panel was stacked with hard-core abortion supporters.
A Sequel to ‘Rules for Radicals’
Schakowsky’s husband has been out of prison for a few years. While incarcerated, he wrote a 618-page book with the following description on Amazon:
In this book one of America s most experienced political strategists and organizers lays out a broad strategy for progressive victory and describes the tactics needed to win real-world political battles one at a time. The book analyzes: The self-interests of voters; Our targets for political communication; The principles of political messaging; The secrets of winning electoral and issue campaigns; What we mean by progressive values; How to describe a compelling progressive vision for the future.
Creamer, whose first progressive campaign was done with progressive provocateur Saul Alinsky, pays homage to him in the book.
Creamer has many successful progressive campaigns under his belt, including efforts to fight social security privatization. He’s now at Democracy Partners, which helps progressive activists coordinate their political messaging and campaign planning and management. One of his fellow partners is none other than … wait for it … Christine Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi.
Among the clients listed on Democracy Partners’ website are a few with a vested interest in combatting inquiries into the dark side of the abortion business, to put it mildly. It’s a remarkable list, given Schakowsky’s responsibility to investigate these groups and their allies:
- EMILY’s List
- Guttmacher Institute
- National Organization for Women
- Planned Parenthood
- Voters for Choice
Now, it’s possible that Schakowsky could take her responsibility to investigate the fetal organ trade seriously despite all these conflicts, but the record thus far dramatically suggests the opposite — a pattern of obstruction, rather obvious collusion with those under investigation, and grandstanding.
And it’s not just that witnesses are donors to Schakowsky or that Schakowsky’s husband is a partner at Democracy Partners, which profits off of running coordinated messaging and political campaigns for the abortion industry and its activists.
Think back to the first hearing when Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, joked that it was odd that Congress was questioning ethics in biomedicine when House members fundraise all the time. She said, “This is kind of preposterous for us to sit up on this committee and suggest about ethical behavior when we are in the business of campaigning and raising money from individuals who are interested in getting us to vote one way or another.”
So who is interested in getting Schakowsky to vote one way or another? Is she taking money from groups that have an existential interest in fighting the work of this committee?
According to Open Secrets, Schakowsky has, in fact, received $13,365 from Planned Parenthood. EMILY’S List, a pro-abortion fundraising group that frequently gives out money in many contributions under the reporting threshold, has given Schakowsky $64,553 in reported contributions. The list goes on, including $9,500 from NARAL Pro-Choice America and $1,750 from National Organization for Women.
Schakowsky is just one of the handpicked Democratic members on the House panel who is supposed to investigate the legality of trafficking organs from aborted human babies. Her conflicts of interest include her family financially benefiting from messaging and campaign coordination projects for some of the groups under investigation, receiving copious campaign contributions from those same groups, and having a donor serve as a witness without disclosing their close relationship. If Schakowsky is somehow able to remain impartial while fulfilling her responsibilities, she may want to start demonstrating that.