Almost five years ago, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris launched an investigation into the work of citizen journalist and anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, who discovered Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of aborted baby body parts. Now, after years of legal battles, Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress, are suing Harris, Planned Parenthood, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for their attempts to use the guise of state recording laws to criminally punish Daleiden because they disagreed politically with the content of his videos.
When the Center for Medical Progress began releasing its undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue trafficking in 2015, Harris launched an investigation on Daleiden, ordered a raid on his home, and seized his camera equipment and hard drives.
Daleiden’s undercover videos did not violate California video recording law, which does not prohibit anybody from recording conversations in a public area that anybody can oversee, but that did not stop Planned Parenthood and Harris from wielding a political prosecution against Daleiden. As I wrote in 2019 during preliminary hearings, this was a political hit job to protect the abortion giant:
Harris personally met with six Planned Parenthood executives in March 2016, at the attorney general’s Los Angeles office. An email outlining action items from the meeting shows that they discussed both Planned Parenthood’s political agenda in the state of California and her investigation into Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. Two of the six executives in that meeting were used as witnesses in Harris’ criminal investigation.
Two weeks after that Los Angeles meeting, Harris ordered a search warrant specifically seeking Daleiden’s unreleased videos and documents, which should have been protected by the California shield law protecting citizen journalists’ unpublished materials. Harris has received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from Planned Parenthood-affiliated entities.
Now Daleiden is suing Harris and others involved in the political prosecution in Los Angeles federal court for conspiracy to violate First and 14th Amendment civil rights. The lawsuit alleges Harris and Becerra, the current California attorney general, selectively enforced California’s video recording laws, documenting other examples of news outlets using undercover video recordings in California that the attorney general never prosecuted.
“This complaint seeks justice for a brazen, unprecedented, and ongoing conspiracy to selectively use California’s video recording laws as a political weapon to silence disfavored speech. David Daleiden became the first journalist ever to be criminally prosecuted under California’s recording law, not because of the method of video recording he utilized in his investigation — which is common in investigative journalism in this state — but because his investigation revealed and he published ‘shock[ing]’ content that California’s Attorney General and the private party co-conspirators wanted to cover up,” the lawsuit reads.
In previous court filings, Becerra admitted that Daleiden was being charged for his videos because “those recordings were edited to enhance their shock value” and therefore Daleiden was “culpable to a greater extent” than other journalists.
“The California Attorney General first admitted that they are enforcing the video recording law solely based on how they feel about the message being published, and then further admitted they are not even trying to follow the text of the law as written,” Daleiden said in a statement. “CMP’s undercover reporting has been corroborated by the successful prosecution of fetal body parts sales we reported in southern California, multiple Congressional investigations, and forensic video analysis.”
When Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against Daleiden went to a civil federal jury trial, the abortion giant attempted to prove Daleiden’s team illegally recorded private conversations, without admitting what exactly those conversations were about. Planned Parenthood’s legal team constantly fought against the use of any evidence related to fetal tissue trafficking, born-alive infants, or its profiting from the sale of human fetal tissue.
In the state’s case against Daleiden, both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation inserted themselves into Becerra’s prosecution to use this same tactic again. They wanted to control what evidence Daleiden could use in his defense, because not doing so risked revealing their own criminal practices.
“California recording law includes an absolute protection for recordings made for the purpose of gathering evidence of violent crimes, and Planned Parenthood and NAF wanted to block off any evidence or testimony that would reveal criminality in their fetal tissue programs,” said Daleiden’s attorney in a statement.
After years of being forced to play defense, Daleiden and CMP are finally on offense against the abortion political machine. In 2019, Daleiden told The Federalist these videos are his life’s work. “I’m absolutely willing to take it as far as it has to go to make sure that the First Amendment civil rights of … all Americans are protected and not able to be preyed upon by people like Kamala Harris,” he said.