The Houston prosecutor whose grand jury indicted two pro-life activists behind the Planned Parenthood sting but cleared the group of wrongdoing is closely connected to the lawyer for a late-term abortionist she failed to prosecute.
Chip Lewis, the attorney for Douglas Karpen, did spin control for Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson after she came under fire for letting his doctor client off the hook. He also contributed $25,000 to her election campaign the following year.
Lewis has even suggested that the outcome for his client could explain why the grand jury indicted Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden, who made the videos, and not Planned Parenthood.
Lewis did not respond to multiple inquiries. But his public comments thus far indicate he communicated with Anderson’s office about the grand jury investigation into the Planned Parenthood videos, according to one pro-life activist.
The Houston grand jury indicted Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden and his associate Sandra Merritt last week for tampering with government records and trying to buy human organs.
Conflict of interest allegations are already swirling around Anderson because one of her prosecutors, Lauren Reeder, serves on the board of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
Anderson, a Republican, has said Reeder played no role in the Planned Parenthood investigation.
But the ties behind Anderson and Lewis, a prominent Houston defense attorney, have received far less attention.
The famous saying about grand juries is that they would indict a ham sandwich if a prosecutor wishes. So Anderson’s background is worth considering.
Especially because when a Missouri grand jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown in 2014, the decision was widely attributed in the media to prosecutorial bias because the DA’s father was a police officer killed in the line of duty.
LifeNews.com reported Thursday afternoon that Lewis donated $25,000 to Anderson’s election campaign in 2014. Lewis has also donated money to Anderson’s late husband who she succeeded as DA the previous year.
In 2013, Operation Rescue produced graphic photographs and video from people it said worked for Karpen, an ob-gyn. The material seemed to indicate Karpen was performing illegal late-term abortions at his Houston clinic. Deborah Edge, who said she worked there for 15 years, claimed she saw him kill babies after birth by twisting their head off.
But the grand jury declined to return an indictment. Operation Rescue senior policy adviser Cheryl Sullenger, who had collected the incriminating photographs, told the Washington Gadfly that said she was not even called to testify and provide her cell phone so the material could be verified.
“They didn’t want to know the truth,” Sullenger said.
After the doctor got off scot-free, Lewis did damage control for Anderson, a Republican, in GOP circles. “I told them, ‘Don’t hitch your wagon to this. They’re crooks, and it’s going to be exposed,” he recalled to the AP.
There are other connections between both grand jury investigations.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman is a board member of the Center for Medical Progress.
Additionally, Lewis told the AP that the same assistant who handled the abortion doctor investigation also supervised the Planned Parenthood matter. She was likely soured on the video makers because of the supposedly flawed evidence she determined that Operation Rescue presented in the earlier case was bogus, he argued.
“I don’t think she forgot what she uncovered.”
Did Lewis have any direct communications with Anderson’s office about this case?
Operation Rescue’s Sullenger says the above quote indicated he did. Because “how else could he know what she [the assistant prosecutor] was thinking? Somebody is talking to someone.”
It is also worth wondering how Lewis knows which assistant handled the grand jury investigation. That kind of information is generally not public.
In another twist that could fuel charges of bias, Planned Parenthood attorney Josh Schaeffer told the AP that the grand jury never even voted on an indictment of his client. He sourced the information to a prosecutor in Anderson’s office.
If Schaeffer’s statement is true then it sounds like the investigation of Planned Parenthood was not very rigorous. But it is worth considering that Schaeffer has an obvious incentive to convince the press allegations of wrongdoing against his clients were baseless.
His claim that the grand jury did not even vote on anything about Planned Parenthood fits that narrative.
The Harris County DA public information office declined comment.