SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Sandra “Susan” Merritt has filed a motion to recuse California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his Office from prosecuting the criminal complaint brought against her, and to dismiss all charges, because the charges are politically motivated and the Attorney General has a documented bias in favor of, and has publicly pledged to “stand with Planned Parenthood.”
Liberty Counsel is defending Merritt against 15 felony charges, brought by the Attorney General to punish Merritt for her undercover work in exposing Planned Parenthood’s unethical and potentially illegal profiteering from the sale of aborted baby body parts.
The recusal and dismissal motion documents show both the Attorney General and his predecessor, now Senator Kamala Harris, received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood. In addition, when the “investigation” began under then-AG Harris, the Attorney General’s Office has maintained an ongoing financial, political and close working relationship with executive officers and employees of various Planned Parenthood entities. The motion demonstrates an indisputable loyalty by the Attorney General to Planned Parenthood.
The public does not have to wonder whether the Attorney General will act impartially, as he is legally required, or whether he will stand with Planned Parenthood. This is because the Attorney General has made it very clear, publicly, that “I Stand with Planned Parenthood.”
The recusal and dismissal motion also demonstrates how the Attorney General’s investigation has been contaminated by the direct involvement of a Planned Parenthood employee, who directed the AG’s investigators to seize computers for Planned Parenthood from Merritt’s co-defendant, David Daleiden. Private meetings between Planned Parenthood representatives and former Attorney General Kamala Harris also resulted in a list of “action items” to be accomplished between the two entities, much of that list being edited out without a legitimate basis (also a subject of the motion). Meanwhile, both entities were collaborating extensively to draft Assembly Bill 1671, which was eventually enacted as Penal Code 632.1, which now purports to criminalize actions that Planned Parenthood wanted to prevent–the further release of videos exposing Planned Parenthood.
Not only does the camaraderie and collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the Attorney General demonstrate a severe conflict of interest, but there are numerous other, well-publicized undercover investigations that have taken place in California – exposing the meat industry, unethical treatment of animals or consumer fraud – and yet Merritt and Daleiden are the first undercover journalists to be criminally prosecuted in the history of the state. Liberty Counsel has shown that, to date, no other citizen journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest. Together, the weight of the evidence demonstrates that the prosecution against Merritt is selective and discriminatory.
“The irrefutable evidence of the Attorney General’s bias comes straight from the horse’s mouth,” said Horatio Mihet, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel at Liberty Counsel. “Attorney General Becerra has no business prosecuting this case, after pledging publicly to ‘stand with Planned Parenthood.’ The People of California deserve better, and the law plainly requires more. The Attorney General’s office must be recused from this case, and these outrageous charges must be dismissed,” said Mihet.
Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.