Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris credited the New York Times during Wednesday’s debate for its “great investigative journalism” after it published an analysis of the president’s personal and business tax records prior to 2018. While there are many reasons why the Times’ investigative journalism is less than “great” in this instance, it is worthwhile to take note of Harris’s own history when it comes to the First Amendment and investigative journalism.
As the attorney general of California, Harris sent armed agents to steal an undercover journalist’s computers and camera equipment and then attempted to throw him in prison.
That journalist and pro-life activist, David Daleiden, released explosive undercover videos that led to House and Senate investigations, the removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas state Medicaid program in 2016, and the prosecution and closure of multiple tissue-procurement companies.
In 2016, Harris launched an investigation on Daleiden, and current Attorney General Xavier Becerra saw the investigation through. Daleiden was slapped with nine state felony charges, and a federal jury in San Francisco delivered a $2.2 million verdict against Daleiden and fellow investigator Sandra Merritt for conspiring to commit fraud and violating state and federal recording laws.
I really felt how much @KamalaHarris values "great investigative journalism" when her 11 armed CA DOJ agents were traipsing through my apartment, seizing my undercover footage but ignoring high-dollar invoices for fetal body parts. #VPDebate
— David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) October 8, 2020
In 2016, Daleiden’s apartment was raided by Harris’s officers who seized video files and personal information. Daleiden said his “First Amendment work product” was taken and described the raid as “an attack on citizen journalism.”
“This is no surprise — Planned Parenthood’s bought-and-paid-for AG has steadfastly refused to enforce the laws against the baby body parts traffickers in our state, or even investigate them,” he said.
In May, Daleiden filed a lawsuit against Harris and Becerra accusing them of violating his First Amendment rights, selectively using California’s two-party recording law as a “political weapon” to silence “disfavored speech,” and conspiring with Planned Parenthood on a politically driven prosecution.
“While running for U.S. Senate, Harris had a secret in-person meeting with Planned Parenthood executives in Los Angeles, including witnesses in her investigation, to discuss issues in the investigation as part of Planned Parenthood’s political agenda in California,” the Center for Medical Progress stated in a press release. “Two weeks later, Daleiden’s home was raided by the California Department of Justice.”