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The Brief: July 28, 2015

The legislative committee investigating Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donations is examining a video that a regional affiliate says might have been filmed in one of its Houston clinics.

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The legislative committee investigating Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donations is examining a video that a regional affiliate says might have been filmed in one of its Houston clinics.

The committee, chaired by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, is set to hold a hearing Wednesday following two already released videos that show Planned Parenthood executives elsewhere in the country discussing the topic. But lawmakers are also reviewing a video obtained by Attorney General Ken Paxton, which Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says could be from a Houston clinic, the Tribune's Alexa Ura reports:

The AG's office granted lawmakers and their staff access to the video under the legislative privilege provided to members of the Legislature by open government laws, said Thomas Holloway, a Schwertner spokesman. 

Legislative privilege allows state agencies to provide confidential information to lawmakers who request it "for legislative purposes."  

Bracing for a secretly recorded video to be released, an attorney for Planned Parenthood sent a letter to Schwertner's office on Sunday saying the organization believed that the committee chairman had access to a video recorded by the Center for Medical Progress at a Houston clinic. The organization asked to view the video out of "fairness" ahead of Wednesday's committee hearing.

On Monday, [Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle] Tafolla said Schwertner's office referred their request to the attorney general's office. Planned Parenthood then sent a letter to the AG's office requesting to view the video, saying that "because the videotape has already been reviewed by such Members and staff, it is no longer privileged."

Paxton's office wouldn't elaborate on how it obtained the video and what it includes, saying Paxton's testimony on Wednesday should help clarify both points. The group behind the two other videos, the Center for Medical Progress, visited a Planned Parenthood Houston clinic in April, we reported earlier Monday. That group hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment.

And in other Planned Parenthood news this week, the national organization has asked the FBI to look into its website's hacking on Sunday.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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Quote to Note

"What I said about McConnell wasn’t attacking him personally."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on his Friday speech on the Senate floor, in which he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told a "flat-out lie."

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