A pro-life activist is suing Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), arguing that she launched an investigation into his undercover journalism project to protect political allies that include abortion activists.
The lawsuit argues that the state of California targeted David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), after he released a series of viral undercover videos showing abortion facility employees candidly discussing the sale of fetal organs and other body parts. Harris, the suit says, abused her office and violated the reporters' constitutional rights "by orchestrating the first and only prosecution of a journalist under California's video recording law." Planned Parenthood and California attorney general Xavier Becerra are also among the defendants.
"Defendants seek their 'pound of flesh' from Mr. Daleiden and to chill other journalists from investigating and reporting on that same content," the suit says. "Defendants met in secret with Kamala Harris in her individual capacity and in her capacity as the California Attorney General, seeking her aid in preventing further investigations of their fetal body parts trade and conspiring to silence the reporting of Mr. Daleiden and CMP."
Daleiden and CMP are now seeking to recover damages from Harris, Becerra, and Planned Parenthood for conducting a smear campaign and violating Daleiden's First Amendment rights.
Harris, a top contender for the vice presidential nomination, launched an attorney general investigation shortly after the videos were released. After she moved to the Senate, Becerra charged Daleiden and another investigator with violating state recording laws. The suit argues that Daleiden is the first journalist to be prosecuted under California's video recording law, and that the prosecution will discourage free speech around the issue of abortion. It points to other examples of undercover journalists secretly recording subjects with no legal repercussions and claims that Daleiden is being prosecuted solely because of the content of his recordings.
California is a "two-party consent" state for video recording, meaning that it is illegal to record a private conversation without the consent of all parties involved.
Harris and Becerra have received tens of thousands of dollars from the abortion industry over the course of their careers. Daleiden's attorneys described the two Democrats and Planned Parenthood as "co-conspirators" who used their elected offices to seek "retaliation for the content of [Daleiden's] videos."
"The co-conspirator Defendants could neither find nor convincingly invent any facts to link Plaintiffs to violent activity, and even their outside political allies could not provide any useful information to them," the suit says. "Since the publication of CMP’s videos, Defendants have conspired to suppress Plaintiffs’ videos and speech from the public and worked to target Mr. Daleiden for his speech."
Daleiden also faced a civil suit in which a jury ordered him to pay $2.2 million to Planned Parenthood for damages. Daleiden is appealing the decision.
Planned Parenthood, Becerra, and Sen. Harris did not respond to email requests for comment.