When I spent the day with Lila Rose a few months ago, she and her communications director, Kate Bryan, vaguely alluded to an "upcoming project" in the same tone as one might discuss an impending bake sale. "We're always working on something," Lila said sweetly when I pressed her for more details.
Now, we know what that "something" probably is: a sting targeting four women's advocacy groups. Planned Parenthood believes that a Live Action actor posed as the owner of a Malibu, CA abortion clinic and set up meetings with Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY's List and Priorities USA during the first week of October. The woman, alleged Live Action operative Wendy Wilmowski (that's her photo below, care of Planned Parenthood; apparently she works in real estate when she's not lying about being a medical provider), said she would consider making "substantial" donations if the organizations answered some of her questions. But when most of those questions turned out to be about politics, not women's health — for example, she asked whether the groups thought Obama would repeal the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, and wanted to know all about the groups' relationship to the Obama campaign — the organizations knew something was up and alerted California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
When I emailed Bryan this morning to see if Live Action would take responsibility for Planned Parenthood's allegations, she sent me this statement from Rose in response:
"Live Action's work exposes these violent practices which kill the most defenseless among us, hurt women and girls and undermine human dignity. If Planned Parenthood was suspicious of Live Action as they claim and stand by everything they say, the group should have filmed the encounters themselves and release it publicly. The sad truth is, the abortion leader repeatedly reveals their radical abortion-first ideology and practices in Live Action investigations."
Very tactful. But based on her past statements regarding previous stings, like the group's recent sex-selective abortion project last spring, that almost certainly means Live Action will release a heavily-edited "OBAMA IS WORKING CLOSELY WITH WOMEN'S ABORTION GROUPS" video before November 6th. In the meantime, why don't we consider another, legitimate political connection: the one between major Live Action donor Raymond Ruddy and Mitt "I'll say anything about abortion that you want me to say!" Romney.
Here are five fun/terrifying facts about Ruddy, a retired businessman who now spends his time funding a bevy of anti-abortion initiatives:
2. Remember that horrible "If Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here" anti-abortion ad back in 2008? That spot was care of Jill Stanek's BornAliveTruth. Ruddy donated over $300,000 to BornAliveTruth the same year.
3. He's anti-condom, even when it comes to AIDS in Africa. From the Boston Globe:
BornAliveTruth joins a list of undertakings that have made Ruddy a major funder of causes dear to the Christian right. The Gerard Health Foundation, which he created in 2001, has disbursed more than $7 million to groups that oppose abortion rights, support abstinence-only sex education, and stress abstinence and marital fidelity, rather than the distribution of condoms, to fight the spread of AIDS.
4. Ruddy was really great at using his tight Bush administration ties (and his wealth) to advance his anti-choice agenda. From The Nation:
With close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to W.'s days as Texas governor, Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies—all with taxpayer dollars.
Following the money swirling around Ruddy offers an eye-opening glimpse into the squalor at the heart of the abstinence-only project. One top Bush adviser left to take a job at Ruddy's charity, Gerard Health Foundation, and a senior officer at Ruddy's for-profit company, Maximus, left to take a top-level position at the Department of Health and Human Services. Leaders of Christian-right organizations that are Gerard grantees have gained advisory HHS positions—and their organizations have in turn received AIDS and abstinence grants to the tune of at least $25 million. Maximus itself has raked in more than $100 million in federal contracts during the Bush era.
When Bush took office, Maximus had just over $13 million in federal contracts. Within a year the amount tripled. By 2006 Maximus was doing $61 million in business with the Bush Administration.
5. He's trying to be just as chummy with Mitt Romney, too. Ruddy is a major donor to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future; he gave them $100,000 last February. He's also donated directly to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Romney for President, Inc.
Live Action — which, by the way, is legally classified as a non-partisan and non-profit organization — is probably super busy right now heavily editing videos to try and prove that there are "unsavory" ties between the Obama campaign and the pro-choice groups targeted in their alleged sting. We're personally more interested in the Ruddy-Romney connection.
(Image via Live Action)