Jailbirds

Kellyanne Conway Worked for Accused Felons

One of Trump’s top advisors took money from the group facing felony charges for secretly taping Planned Parenthood.

New financial disclosures show Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway worked for the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group facing felony criminal charges in California for allegations that it illegally used false identities to record undercover videos of conversations with abortion providers.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released its first round of videos in July of 2015, which drew attention to the fact that numerous abortion providers provide fetal tissue to biomedical researchers, who in turn provide them with financial compensation to offset those costs. CMP’s videos energized pro-life activists and drew significant criticism from supporters of abortion rights, who argued they were doctored and intended to stigmatize the abortion procedure.

Abortion has always been a political lightning rod, but the CMP videos forced the issue in a way that hadn’t been seen before. Planned Parenthood rallied a bevy of patients and celebrity supporters to defend the procedure and its providers, and Hillary Clinton—then a presidential candidate—as unequivocal about her support for the group and abortion rights. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies ripped the organization. And pro-life outside groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, organized activists in swing states to push back against the procedure.

The Center for Medical Progress is listed as one of many that Conway consulted for in 2016. That list was made available through her Executive Branch Personnel public financial disclosure report, which the White House released on Friday night.

Conway has long supported conservative pro-life candidates and causes. Unlike many Trump himself—who praised Planned Parenthood during the campaign—Conway is viewed as a principled and unflinching opponent of abortion rights.

Abortion rights have become a central focus of the Trump presidency. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie vote in the Senate to let state governments block Title X federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood abortion providers. And pro-life advocates have pushed for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute abortion providers for their fetal tissue programs.

Meanwhile, though, CMP is under immense legal pressure in California. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced on March 28 that he had filed an arrest warrant along with 15 criminal charges against David Daleiden, who heads CMP.

“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”

California has a state law barring people from recording conversations without the consent of all the parties involved, which is why Daleiden’s group is in significant legal trouble there.

Conway’s filing shows she worked for a number of other conservative groups, including the NRA, Citizens United, and the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC. She also consulted for Rep. Rod Blum’s reelection campaign. Blum is a member of the Freedom Caucus, which Trump recently tweeted he would need to fight. On top of that, Conway also consulted for the Center for Security Policy, a conspiracy theory-minded outlet helmed by Frank Gaffney, a former advisor to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Gaffney has long held that Huma Abedin is a covert agent for Islamists and that Grover Norquist, the conservative anti-tax lobbyist, is in cahoots with terrorists as well. Conway also worked for establishment Republican groups, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican Governors Association.