WASHINGTON, D.C., September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Tomorrow afternoon, a Congressional panel may hold StemExpress in contempt for failing to comply with multiple subpoenas and stonewalling its investigations into the Planned Parenthood body parts trafficking scandal – going so far as to threaten to have investigators arrested for asking questions.
StemExpress came to public attention last year as the most conspicuous partner of Planned Parenthood, paying the nation’s largest abortion provider to supply it with fetal organs and tissue, which it then supplied to researchers.
A former StemExpress technician described how her trainer restarted an aborted baby's heartbeat before telling to cut through the child's face to harvest his brains.
CEO Kate Dyer makes an appearance in the videos, saying the company ships a lot of “intact” aborted babies’ bodies, chuckling that the lab technicians who open the packages often “freak out and have meltdowns.”
The House Select Panel on Infant Lives sought to determine whether their relationship violates federal law, which makes selling human organs for “valuable consideration” a felony. On December 17, the panel asked for an exhaustive list of StemExpress’ suppliers and clients, as well as financial records that would show whether anyone made a profit from the exchange.
After receiving an insufficient response, the panel issued a subpoena to StemExpress on February 12 and a second on March 29.
“Dyer refused to comply with the subpoena and failed to turn over a single document in response to the subpoena,” according to a 20-page Congressional report issued in advance of this afternoon’s hearing.
When asked where it procured its aborted organs, StemExpress only named two Planned Parenthood affiliates – not the specific offices – Congress already knew about and “refused to provide the names of independent clinics from which StemExpress procured fetal tissue citing their ‘safety and security,’” the report says.
The biotech firm “cited non-disclosure agreements” to avoid naming its financial partners.
Its employees have rebuffed investigators’ questions. At one point a former employee that StemExpress told the panel to contact, Sara Lee Heuston, “stated that she had no documents and that if the panel contacted her again she would call the police,” the report says.
After the second subpoena, StemExpress offered to let Congress see “roll-ups.”
Their self-reporting omitted payments and “lacked the authenticity and accuracy of actual accounting documents.” To date, StemExpress has “not produced any banking records.”
Congress found discrepancies in the company’s records, such as claiming the cost of “disease screening, supplies, and shipping” as allowable – but then passing that cost on to its consumer, as well.
When the panel asked for the names of specific employees it could interview to get the specific financial information it needs, StemExpress also demurred, saying the employees’ lives may be in danger. The panel then offered to protect their confidentiality, but elicited no response.
On August 23, the panel warned StemExpress’ new attorney, Frank Radoslovich, that “the Chairman of the Select Investigative Panel,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn, “will recommend that StemExpress and Catherine Spears Dyer be held in contempt for their willful failure to fully comply with the Panel’s subpoena issued to them” but gave the business one final chance to comply.
Tomorrow, members of the Republican-controlled panel will vote on whether to hold the company in contempt.
The panel's Democrats find the move outrageous. Rep. Jan Shawkowsky, D-IL, charged that Blackburn “manufactured a controversy over information that she does not need,” calling the request “McCarthyesque.”
“We will fight this continued abuse of congressional authority every step of the way,” the Democrat promised in remarks to The Washington Post today.
If the panel votes to hold StemExpress in contempt, it will be the first time since Congress held former Obama IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt two years ago.
The hearing begins at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.