In the course of five days this month, eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five states and D.C. reported getting the same visit: A man said he needed treatment for a sexually transmitted disease and then, once alone with a staff member, implied that he ran an interstate sex trafficking ring that involves minors and illegal immigrants.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America thinks that the visits, which happened between Jan. 11 and 15, are part of a James O’Keefe-style “sting.” But the group called in the FBI anyway.
“These multi-state visits from men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking of minors may be a hoax,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week. “However, if the representations made by this man are true,” she wrote, they indicate violations of several sex trafficking, prostitution and child sex laws.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood would not reveal the identity of the man, or men, who visited the clinics. The group does, however, suspect he has ties to Live Action, the pro-life, anti-Planned Parenthood group run by O’Keefe associate Lila Rose.
Live Action’s mission is to stop abortion, and its favored tool is undercover videos which the group says proves Planned Parenthood’s “willingness to repeatedly tell medically inaccurate misinformation,” “willingness to repeatedly violate mandatory reporting laws for statutory rape” and “racism.”
Rose, who runs the group, worked with O’Keefe on her first series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos in 2006 after the two met at the Leadership Institute.
Neither Rose nor O’Keefe returned calls from TPM for comment. Rose told the Associated Press that Planned Parenthood’s letter is “very interesting.”
She didn’t confirm her involvement in the incidents, but said, “The story that speaks loudest will be in the evidence,” she said. “I can’t comment until we release the visual evidence.”
The Planned Parenthood spokeswoman said that individual clinics called local law enforcement. When the national organization noticed the pattern, she said, they wrote to Holder. She said that there’s been some contact between the group and the FBI but declined to elaborate.
The spokeswoman said that, between the choice of sex trafficking ring and political hoax, everyone is hoping it’s a political hoax.
The clinics were in Washington, D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, Indiana, New York and Arizona.
The DOJ does not confirm the existence of investigations as a matter of policy.