After an anti-abortion group released several videos alleging that the Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood office was breaking federal law by selling parts of aborted fetuses, Gov. Greg Abbott told the anti choice posse to saddle up.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton were already headed for their horses.
Patrick demanded that his hometown DA, fellow Republican and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, perform a criminal investigation of the lawbreakers.
So DA Anderson dutifully got the gumshoes hot on the investigation – her office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston police. The results were presented to a grand jury.
After two months of deliberation, the grand jury said Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong. Instead, it indicted the folks who had carried out the video sting operation.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson’s statement said. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”
Indicted were David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, of a bogus medical research group, Center for Medical Progress, on charges of tampering with a government record, by providing fake California driver’s licenses when visiting Planned Parenthood’s office in Houston. That’s a second-degree felony.
Daleiden also was indicted for a Class A misdemeanor for attempted purchase and sale of human organs, by offering to pay well above conveyance costs for body parts donated for research.
(Under federal law, selling fetal tissue is illegal. But it is legal for a consenting patient to donate fetal tissue to be used in medical research. The law allows clinics to collect reimbursement for the costs of “transportation, implantation, processing preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue” used for research.)
So, since the investigation didn’t turn out as Patrick, Abbott and Paxton had anticipated, they accepted the situation and called off their witch hunt, right?
Wrong. They doubled down, if not tripled – if that’s possible. They’re still saddled up.
Gov. Abbott: “The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions. Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation. The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”
Lt. Gov. Patrick: “The horrific nature of these videos demand scrutiny and investigation. The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will continue to examine the practices of abortion providers and whether state law adequately protects the sanctity of life. . . . I will never be deterred from standing up to fight to protect the unborn.”
Atty. Gen. Paxton: “The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. The state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing.”
Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (and daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards):
“I haven’t seen any indication that the governor or lieutenant governor of Texas cares what happens to women at all,” Richards told the Texas Tribune. “It seems to me their entire campaign against women here has been based upon their political beliefs and not about the well being of the people of Texas.”
Short-Time Legislator? Republican John Lujan beat Democrat Tomas Uresti in a Jan. 26 special election runoff in San Antonio’s House District 118, to replace Democrat Joe Farias, who had resigned.
Lujan beat Uresti, the brother of Sen. Carlos Uresti, by 171 votes, of 3,601 cast, or 52 percent. Uresti had finished ahead of Farias’ son Gabe in the special election.
Republicans crowed about Lujan’s victory, but he may never cast a vote during his current term – or maybe ever.
The legislature isn’t scheduled to reconvene until January 2017, and there’s a presidential general election between now and then – when whoever will serve the next two-year term in the Democraticleaning district will be chosen.
In the last presidential election in 2012, there were 40,087 votes cast in District 118 – about 11 times as many as in this election runoff. Joe Farias beat his Republican opponent with almost 60 percent.
Uresti and Gabe Farias face off again in the March 1 Democratic primary, which could mean Farias might face Lujan in November.
Or, Robert A. Casias, who opposes Lujan in the Republican primary. But Lujan’s interim victory may bring enough establishment support to stand off Casias.
Regardless, don’t bet against a Democrat being sworn in next year in this usually Democratic district.
DAVE MCNEELY is a politial columnist. You may contact him at email@example.com or (512) 458- 2963.