House Republicans have been holding the unedited footage from the Planned Parenthood smear videos for two weeks, and are refusing to allow Democrats to view the tapes.
Republicans are gearing up for another wasteful and irresponsible committee investigation, this time into allegations surrounding the popular women’s health organization, Planned Parenthood, after videos were posted online this summer alleging misconduct by the group. But the videos were obviously heavily edited, and now that the Republicans have obtained the full versions, they are reluctant to allow anyone to see them.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), speaking during a debate about the Planned Parenthood investigation, said:
“Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has in his possession right now, a computer hard drive that contains videos produced by David Daleiden, the head of the group that tried to entrap Planned Parenthood… Those videos are the property of the committee, but [Chaffetz] is refusing to give the Democratic members a copy of those videos. Those tapes are being hidden away. It appears that the Republicans don’t want the Democrats to be able to see those videos.”
Chaffetz, who is in the running to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, has already drawn strong criticism for his ignorant and disrespectful treatment of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a recent hearing. In addition to presenting a misleading graph from an anti-abortion organization, Chaffetz has attacked Richards for making a good salary.
According to a Democratic aide, Chaffetz has refused to share the recently obtained video footage with the Democrats, in “direct violation” of a recent subpoena – perhaps because doing so would expose this investigation as another baseless political attack, this time against an organization that provides healthcare to millions of women (and men) every year.
Chaffetz has offered to set up a “viewing room” for the Democrats, but no viewing has yet been arranged, and given what we know about the Republicans who are spearheading this investigation, Democrats should not be satisfied with a “viewing room,” but should demand that Chaffetz comply with the court order. “We don’t know what the videos are,” said the aide, “because, despite the fact that the videos were delivered two weeks ago, the Republicans have yet to set up their ‘viewing room.’”
The Republicans’ attempt to use taxpayer funding to conduct a smear campaign against their opponents is disgraceful, in one case exploiting the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and in another case jeopardizing the health of millions of women. Their refusal to share the video footage only goes to show that the lies spread by Chaffetz, Carly Fiorina, and others are completely groundless.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.