Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested that the IRS investigate whether the Center for Medical Progress, the organization that recently released misleading videos of secretly recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood officials, violated federal law by misrepresenting its planned activities in its application for tax-exempt status. The Center asserted to the public, and apparently to the IRS, that it would engage in activities related to biomedicine or bioengineering, when it instead intended to vilify reproductive services providers in public communications.

Earlier this month, the Center released videotapes to the public that it secretly recorded and deceptively edited in an attempt to make it appear that Planned Parenthood sells organs of aborted fetuses in violation of federal law. The Center has tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code – meaning donations to the group are tax-deductible – but it appears the Center acquired that status by lying to the IRS about its intended activities. Based on the Center’s application for tax-exempt status, the IRS assigned it a code for groups engaged in biomedicine or bioengineering. The IRS’s determination strongly suggests that the Center made false representations on its application, which is a federal crime.

The Center has also misrepresented its activities to the public. On its website, the Center currently identifies itself as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.” As recently as February 2015, however, the Center called itself “a non-profit organization dedicated to informing and educating both the lay public and the scientific community about the latest advances in regenerative medicine, cell-based therapies, and related disciplines,” and solicited tax-deductible contributions from the public based on this false description of its mission. In another deception, the Center established a fake company in 2013 which purported to procure biological tissue for academic and private researchers, and even registered it with the California Secretary of State, to create a cover for its secret filming.

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