Watchdog Releases Legal Filings Showing Americans United for Life Involved in Doctored Planned Parenthood Videos
Mainstream Anti-Abortion Org Worked with Controversial Anti-Choice Activist David Daleiden
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, published court documents revealing that Americans United for Life (AUL), a 48-year old national anti-abortion organization, advised the controversial anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in its release of deceptively edited videos designed to harm Planned Parenthood. According to documents filed in a lawsuit against CMP, AUL provided extensive support to CMP during its deceitful scheme including 300 communications with CMP’s head, David Daleiden.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Americans United for Life presents itself as the authoritative voice of the anti-choice movement, but these documents show AUL was willing to aid and abet an alleged felony intent upon defaming Planned Parenthood. The American public and members of Congress should be aware that Americans United for Life is nothing but a Potemkin organization papering over its extremist, and possibly criminal, allegiances.”
AUL was founded in 1971 to restrict access to abortion. It is one of the most well-known and powerful anti-abortion organizations in the country. CMP is a recently formed anti-abortion front group run by the activist and provocateur David Daleiden.
In 2014 and 2015, Daleiden and another CMP activist created fake identities and posed as employees of a company seeking to buy fetal tissue. The activists attended abortion-care conferences and secretly recorded their conversations with employees of Planned Parenthood. Daleiden then deceptively edited the secretly recorded conversations to falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Unedited versions of the videos later showed that Planned Parenthood officials did nothing wrong.
While Daleiden’s misdeeds have been well covered, documents from a lawsuit against him indicating he was aided extensively by AUL have received little notice. In 2016, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Daleiden alleging fraud, invasion of privacy, and trespassing, among other things. During the course of the litigation, Planned Parenthood determined that AUL provided extensive support to Daleiden’s corrupt scheme.
According to documents released in the lawsuit, Daleiden had more than 300 communications with at least 16 AUL employees while he was perpetrating his scheme. AUL’s involvement is detailed in a letter submitted to the judge by Planned Parenthood. A subsequent ruling issued by the judge reveals that CMP was in communication with many high level AUL employees. Specifically, Daleiden worked with Charmaine Yoest, AUL’s former CEO and President who later became Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services and then became an adviser in the Trump White House. Yoest now serves as Vice President, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity for the Heritage Foundation.
Daleiden also worked with Jeanneane Maxon, AUL’s former VP of External Affairs, and Ovide Lamontagne, AUL’s former General Counsel, and several others. AUL attorney Steven Aden told the court that Daleiden engaged AUL in January 2015 for “legal counsel and strategic assistance relating to proposed investigations” by CMP.
Beyond supporting Daleiden’s alleged racketeering operation, AUL executives also promoted his work on Capitol Hill. In September 2015, Dr. Yoest testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health at a hearing about defunding abortion providers who break the law. Dr. Yoest’s testimony mentioned CMP’s deceptive videos several times. Dr. Yoest also wrote letters to members of Congress that highlighted the doctored videos.
On November 15, 2019, a jury in the Planned Parenthood case found that Daleiden caused Planned Parenthood substantial harm and awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling over $2 million.
Ms. Huling continued, “Americans United for Life conspired with David Daleiden to produce deceptive videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and then promoted those videos to lawmakers. Americans United for Life should be held responsible for its role in aiding this corrupt and dangerous endeavor.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.