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Watchdog Group: California Should Investigate Anti-Choice Attack Organization for Fraud

Andrea Grimes

A watchdog group has asked the California attorney general to investigate whether the anti-choice group that posed as a non-existent medical research entity violated California law "by making false or misleading solicitations for charitable donations."

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

A left-leaning political watchdog group has asked the California attorney general to investigate whether the anti-choice group that posed as a non-existent medical research entity violated California law “by making false or misleading solicitations for charitable donations.”

In a letter addressed to the California attorney general’s office on Tuesday, the president of the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) asserts that the group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress (CMP)—which has now released two heavily edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood—has “clearly violated California law by misrepresenting its purpose as a charitable organization.”

Screenshots taken of CMP’s website before and after the release of the videos, according to the ADLF complaint, show that CMP dramatically changed the way it described its purpose, to the extent that the original nonprofit classification code issued to the organization—”charities with a focus on biomedicine and bioengineering”—fails to apply to the current objective and operation of the organization.

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The ADLF, citing screenshots of the CMP website, asserts that CMP originally solicited donations by describing itself as a “non-profit organization dedicated to informing and educating both the law public and the scientific community about the latest advances in regenerative medicine, cell-based therapies and related disciplines.”

After the release of the footage, ADLF president Brad Woodhouse wrote, CMP dramatically altered its mission statement to describe itself, in part, as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances,” who are “concerned about contemporary bioethical issues that impact human dignity.”

CMP’s videos were filmed without the consent of Planned Parenthood employees, who believed they were speaking with other legitimate medical providers, according to the health-care organization. Other reproductive health-care specialists and reproductive justice advocates have told Rewire in interviews this week that they believe they have been targeted by CMP over the past two years, and that they believe they have been recorded without their knowledge or approval.

Woodhouse’s letter emphasizes that CMP’s activities appear to be singularly focused on attacking Planned Parenthood, and alleges that CMP always intended to switch gears after gathering its footage.

“The Center for Medical Progress is and always was a shell company, created by an anti-abortion activist with the specific intent to perpetuate a fraud on the California public for the purpose of soliciting charitable contributions to fund its efforts to infiltrate and undermine Planned Parenthood,” Woodhouse wrote.

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