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Big Oaks from Little ACORNs Grow: Karl Rove, White Supremacists and the Forging of a Non-Scandal

Com­ment: With the Bush admin­is­tra­tion hav­ing destroyed the econ­o­my, along with just about every­thing else, the GOP right has been beat­ing the rhetor­i­cal war drums about ACORN. Between the lines, they are imply­ing that the col­lapse of the hous­ing mar­ket and, thus, the finan­cial indus­try was pro­duced by poor blacks and Llati­nos buy­ing homes they could­n’t afford. (Of course, it WASN’T pro­duced by Gold­man  Sachs, Pim­co [stay tuned for upcom­ing pro­grams], Roland Arnall and the oth­er archi­tects of the sub­prime mess.)

As it hap­pens, scape­goat­ing ACORN–and by exten­sion non-white minori­ties and their “lib­er­al enablers”–had much of its gen­e­sis with Karl Rove’s role in fir­ing U.S. attor­ney David Igle­sias of New Mex­i­co. It seems that Igle­sias resist­ed GOP pres­sure to crack down on ACORN, which was reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers.

Much of the right-wing rhetor­i­cal firestorm about ACORN derived from activist James O’Keefe’s “sting,” in which he posed as  a pimp, seek­ing hous­ing for “ho’s.”

James O’Keefe turns out to be a fel­low-trav­el­er of the white suprema­cist move­ment.

“Rove: a Mov­ing Tar­get” by Michael Issikoff;Newsweek; 2007.
New dis­clo­sures in the U.S. attor­ney con­tro­ver­sy have increased the pres­sure on White House aide Karl Rove. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Alber­to Gon­za­les’s ex-chief of staff, D. Kyle Samp­son, tes­ti­fied last week that “dur­ing the run-up to the midterm elec­tions,” the A.G. told him Rove had “com­plained” that David Igle­sias, the U.S. attor­ney in New Mex­i­co, and two oth­er fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, were not doing enough to pros­e­cute vot­er fraud—a top GOP pri­or­i­ty. It was short­ly after that, Samp­son said, that Igle­sias got added to the list of U.S. attor­neys to be fired. (Igle­sias told NEWSWEEK he had been repeat­ed­ly pushed by New Mex­i­co GOP offi­cials to pros­e­cute work­ers for ACORN, an activist group that was reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers in minor­i­ty neigh­bor­hoods, but he found no cas­es worth bring­ing.) Jus­tice was also forced to cor­rect its ear­li­er asser­tion that Rove did not play “any role” in replac­ing the U.S. attor­ney in Lit­tle Rock. Samp­son’s e‑mails showed he had described the replace­ment as “impor­tant to ... Karl.”

Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy warned the White House that even a Gon­za­les res­ig­na­tion would not “short-cir­cuit” his probe, vow­ing to block con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for any suc­ces­sor unless he gets Rove under oath. (Bush has refused to allow Rove and oth­er White House offi­cials to tes­ti­fy in pub­lic.) White House spokes­woman Dana Peri­no reaf­firmed Bush’s “100 per­cent” back­ing of Gon­za­les, and the A.G. vowed to car­ry on.

The inquiries are only mul­ti­ply­ing. The Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel has begun its own inves­ti­ga­tion into whether Igle­si­as’s dis­missal was a vio­la­tion of both the Hatch Act (which pro­hibits fed­er­al employ­ees from being fired for “polit­i­cal” rea­sons) and a law that bars dis­crim­i­na­tion against mil­i­tary-ser­vice mem­bers, said an offi­cial, anony­mous when talk­ing about an inter­nal mat­ter. Jus­tice offi­cials have at times sug­gest­ed one rea­son Igle­sias was fired is that he spent too much time away from the office because he is in the naval reserves. The agen­cy’s direc­tor, Scott Bloch, recent­ly pledged “aggres­sive” enforce­ment of the law, which is increas­ing­ly impor­tant giv­en the grow­ing num­ber of Nation­al Guard and mil­i­tary reserves called up for ser­vice in Iraq. . . .

“James O’Keefe’s Race Prob­lem” by Max Blu­men­thal; Salon.com; 2/3/2010.

Many of the con­ser­v­a­tives who glee­ful­ly pro­mot­ed James O’Keefe’s past polit­i­cal stunts are feign­ing shock at his arrest on charges that he and three asso­ciates planned to tam­per with Louisiana Sen. Mary Lan­drieu’s phone lines. Once upon a time, right-wing pun­dits hailed the 25-year-old O’Keefe as a cre­ative genius and mod­el of jour­nal­is­tic ethics. Andrew Bre­it­bart, who has paid O’Keefe, called him one of the all-time “great jour­nal­ists” and said he deserved a Pulitzer for his under­cov­er ACORN video. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly declared he should have earned a “con­gres­sion­al medal.”

His right-wing admir­ers don’t seem to mind that O’Keefe’s short but sto­ried career has been defined by a series of polit­i­cal stunts shot through with racial resent­ment. Now an activist orga­ni­za­tion that mon­i­tors hate groups has pro­duced a pho­to of O’Keefe at a 2006 con­fer­ence on “Race and Con­ser­vatism” that fea­tured lead­ing white nation­al­ists. The pho­to, first pub­lished Jan. 30  on the Web site of the anti-racism group One Peo­ple’s Project, shows O’Keefe at the gath­er­ing, which was so con­tro­ver­sial even the ultra-right Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, which employed O’Keefe at the time, with­drew its back­ing. O’Keefe’s fel­low young con­ser­v­a­tive provo­ca­teur Mar­cus Epstein orga­nized the event, which gave anti-Semi­tes, pro­fes­sion­al racists and pro­po­nents of Aryanism an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their griev­ances and plans to make inroads in the GOP. . .

One Peo­ple’s Project cov­ered the event at the time, send­ing a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er to doc­u­ment the gath­er­ing. Project direc­tor Daryle Jenk­ins told O’Keefe manned a lit­er­a­ture table  filled with tracts from the white suprema­cist right, includ­ing two pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic pub­li­ca­tions that have called blacks and Lati­nos genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or to whites: Amer­i­can Renais­sance and the Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly.  The lead­ing speak­er was Jared Tay­lor, founder of the white nation­al­ist group Amer­i­can Renais­sance. “We can say for cer­tain that James O’Keefe was at the 2006 meet­ing with Jared Tay­lor. He has absolute­ly no way of deny­ing that,” Jenk­ins said. O’Keefe’s attor­ney did not respond to a request for com­ment on his clien­t’s role in the con­fer­ence.

Discussion

3 comments for “Big Oaks from Little ACORNs Grow: Karl Rove, White Supremacists and the Forging of a Non-Scandal”

  1. This again?

    Huff­in­g­ton Post
    ACORN, In New GOP Bud­get Bill, Would Be Defund­ed Again, Even Though It No Longer Exists

    Post­ed: 03/05/2013 8:20 am EST | Updat­ed: 03/05/2013 11:52 am EST
    Zach Carter

    WASHINGTON — A new short-term bud­get bill intro­duced on Mon­day by House Repub­li­cans includes a bizarre pro­vi­sion ban­ning fed­er­al fund­ing to anti-pover­ty group ACORN, despite the fact that the group has already been stripped of fed­er­al fund­ing — and has been defunct for near­ly three years.

    ACORN lead­ers announced that the group was dis­band­ing in March 2010, after Con­gress cut off all fed­er­al fund­ing to the orga­ni­za­tion. The pro­vi­sion in the cur­rent GOP bud­get bill [PDF], buried on page 221 of 269, would dupli­cate leg­is­la­tion that has already passed, to tar­get an orga­ni­za­tion that does not exist.

    ACORN, also known as the Alliance of Com­mu­ni­ty Orga­ni­za­tions for Reform Now, came under heavy fire in the fall of 2009 after con­ser­v­a­tive provo­ca­teur James O’Keefe released a set of selec­tive­ly edit­ed videos that appeared to show employ­ees of the orga­ni­za­tion offer­ing advice on tax avoid­ance relat­ed to pros­ti­tu­tion and child smug­gling. Inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tions by the Cal­i­for­nia attor­ney gen­er­al, the Mass­a­chu­setts attor­ney gen­er­al and the Brook­lyn, N.Y. dis­trict attor­ney would lat­er clear ACORN of crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing, and an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office would clear ACORN of charges that it mis­han­dled fed­er­al funds.

    But the dam­age to ACORN’s rep­u­ta­tion had already been done. By Novem­ber of 2009, Con­gress had defund­ed the orga­ni­za­tion, using broad lan­guage that applied to “any orga­ni­za­tion” that had been charged with break­ing fed­er­al or state elec­tion laws, lob­by­ing dis­clo­sure laws, cam­paign finance laws or fil­ing fraud­u­lent paper­work with any fed­er­al or state agency. The fund­ing ban also extend­ed to any employ­ees, con­trac­tors or oth­ers affil­i­at­ed with any group charged with any of those things.

    ...

    Mis­sion Accom­plished!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2013, 12:46 pm
  2. You’d think this would be a big­ger deal: It turns out Erik Prince — broth­er of Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos and some­one who played a still-under­ex­plored role in the 2016 US elec­tion involv­ing Saudi/UAE inter­fer­ence on behalf of the Trump cam­paign — has been recruit­ing ex-spies to help train Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives to infil­trate left-wing groups and Demo­c­ra­t­ic cam­paigns in recent years. The spies who did this train­ing include an ex-MI6 offi­cer, Richard Sed­don. And the tar­get­ed groups include the con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Abi­gail Span­berg­er and the Michi­gan office of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers. A law­suit against Project Ver­i­tas by the union revealed a num­ber of inter­nal emails detail­ing the spy­ing oper­a­tion.

    Recall how Project Ver­i­tas is the cre­ation of James O’Keefe, the far right fake ‘inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist’ known for his ‘cre­ative­ly edit­ed’ sting videos and palling around with white suprema­cists. So any­one train­ing Project Ver­i­tas fig­ures with spy­ing tech­niques was basi­cal­ly train­ing a group of smear mer­chants with a long track record of amoral behav­ior. This is a group very friend­ly with the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis that will say and do any­thing that oper­ates a GOP dirty-tricks oper­a­tion.

    One of the fig­ures involved with oper­a­tion to spy on the teach­ers union was Joe Hal­der­man. He hap­pens to be the for­mer CBS pro­duc­er who was con­vict­ed of attempt­ing to black­mail David Let­ter­man for $2 mil­lion. That’s the kind of peo­ple these are.

    It sounds like the spy train­ing start­ed dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign sea­son so it’s worth keep­ing mind that Project Ver­i­tas fig­ures may have been part of Erik Prince’s var­i­ous oper­a­tions dur­ing that cam­paign. It’s worth recall­ing how O’Keefe’s fel­low far right troll Charles John­son was coor­di­nat­ing with the Peter Smith’s oper­a­tion to find Hillary Clin­ton’s emails on the Dark Web (an oper­a­tion that could have been a cov­er to arrange for their own hack of the Democ­rats). Smith claims he reached out to John­son who made a ref­er­ence to a hid­den net­work of right-wing oppo­si­tion researchers. The Project Ver­i­tas fig­ures would be pre­cise­ly the kind of peo­ple we should expect John­son to have been refer­ring to, espe­cial­ly of they were get­ting spy train­ing by Erik Prince’s asso­ciates. The arti­cle also notes that Trump him­self donat­ed $20,000 to Project Ver­i­tas in 2015, the year his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign start­ed.

    It’s also worth recall­ing how Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca hired a num­ber of for­mer MI6 offi­cers and was char­ac­ter­ized as “MI6 for hire”. So this would be anoth­er exam­ple of for­mer British intel­li­gence offi­cers work­ing with the US far right.

    So the Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary’s mer­ce­nary broth­er hired ex-spies to train right-wing oper­a­tives to infil­trate groups includ­ing teach­ers union and those oper­a­tives hail from a dirty-tricks oper­a­tion with an estab­lished track record of cre­at­ing fake videos and inten­tion­al­ly deceiv­ing their audi­ences. Keep in mind that DeVos is a big crit­ic of teach­ers unions. Again, you would think this would be a big­ger deal. But, of course, this is the Trump era where right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tions and dirty-tricks are an accept­ed norm so this report will pre­sum­ably be large­ly ignored as just a report on the New Nor­mal:

    The New York Times

    Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infil­trate Lib­er­al Groups

    Mr. Prince, a con­trac­tor close to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, con­tact­ed vet­er­an spies for oper­a­tions by Project Ver­i­tas, the con­ser­v­a­tive group known for con­duct­ing stings on news orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er groups.

    By Mark Mazzetti and Adam Gold­man

    Pub­lished March 7, 2020
    Updat­ed March 9, 2020, 1:35 p.m. ET

    WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the secu­ri­ty con­trac­tor with close ties to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, has in recent years helped recruit for­mer Amer­i­can and British spies for secre­tive intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing oper­a­tions that includ­ed infil­trat­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al cam­paigns, labor orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er groups con­sid­ered hos­tile to the Trump agen­da, accord­ing to inter­views and doc­u­ments.

    One of the for­mer spies, an ex-MI6 offi­cer named Richard Sed­don, helped run a 2017 oper­a­tion to copy files and record con­ver­sa­tions in a Michi­gan office of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, one of the largest teach­ers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Sed­don direct­ed an under­cov­er oper­a­tive to secret­ly tape the union’s local lead­ers and try to gath­er infor­ma­tion that could be made pub­lic to dam­age the orga­ni­za­tion, doc­u­ments show.

    Using a dif­fer­ent alias the next year, the same under­cov­er oper­a­tive infil­trat­ed the con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of Abi­gail Span­berg­er, then a for­mer C.I.A. offi­cer who went on to win an an impor­tant House seat in Vir­ginia as a Demo­c­rat. The cam­paign dis­cov­ered the oper­a­tive and fired her.

    Both oper­a­tions were run by Project Ver­i­tas, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that has gained atten­tion using hid­den cam­eras and micro­phones for sting oper­a­tions on news orga­ni­za­tions, Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and lib­er­al advo­ca­cy groups. Mr. Seddon’s role in the teach­ers’ union oper­a­tion — detailed in inter­nal Project Ver­i­tas emails that have emerged from the dis­cov­ery process of a court bat­tle between the group and the union — has not pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed, nor has Mr. Prince’s role in recruit­ing Mr. Sed­don for the group’s activ­i­ties.

    Both Project Ver­i­tas and Mr. Prince have ties to Pres­i­dent Trump’s aides and fam­i­ly. Whether any Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials or advis­ers to the pres­i­dent were involved in the oper­a­tions, even tac­it­ly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vig­or­ous pri­vate cam­paign to try to under­mine polit­i­cal groups or indi­vid­u­als per­ceived to be in oppo­si­tion to Mr. Trump’s agen­da.

    Mr. Prince, the for­mer head of Black­wa­ter World­wide and the broth­er of Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, has at times served as an infor­mal advis­er to Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. He worked with the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael T. Fly­nn dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion. In 2017, he met with White House and Pen­ta­gon offi­cials to pitch a plan to pri­va­tize the Afghan war using con­trac­tors in lieu of Amer­i­can troops. Jim Mat­tis, then the defense sec­re­tary, reject­ed the idea.

    Mr. Prince appears to have become inter­est­ed in using for­mer spies to train Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives in espi­onage tac­tics some­time dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Reach­ing out to sev­er­al intel­li­gence vet­er­ans — and occa­sion­al­ly using Mr. Sed­don to make the pitch — Mr. Prince said he want­ed the Project Ver­i­tas employ­ees to learn skills like how to recruit sources and how to con­duct clan­des­tine record­ings, among oth­er sur­veil­lance tech­niques.

    James O’Keefe, the head of Project Ver­i­tas, declined to answer detailed ques­tions about Mr. Prince, Mr. Sed­don and oth­er top­ics, but he called his group a “proud inde­pen­dent news orga­ni­za­tion” that is involved in dozens of inves­ti­ga­tions. He said that numer­ous sources were com­ing to the group “pro­vid­ing con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments, insights into inter­nal process­es and wear­ing hid­den cam­eras to expose cor­rup­tion and mis­con­duct.”

    “No one tells Project Ver­i­tas who or what to inves­ti­gate,” he said.

    ...

    Mr. Prince is under inves­ti­ga­tion by the Jus­tice Depart­ment over whether he lied to a con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee exam­in­ing Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion, and for pos­si­ble vio­la­tions of Amer­i­can export laws. Last year, the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee made a crim­i­nal refer­ral to the Jus­tice Depart­ment about Mr. Prince, say­ing he lied about the cir­cum­stances of his meet­ing with a Russ­ian banker in the Sey­chelles in Jan­u­ary 2017.

    Once a small oper­a­tion run­ning on a shoe­string bud­get, Project Ver­i­tas in recent years has had a surge in dona­tions from both pri­vate donors and con­ser­v­a­tive foun­da­tions. Accord­ing to its lat­est pub­licly avail­able tax fil­ing, Project Ver­i­tas received $8.6 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions and grants in 2018. Mr. O’Keefe earned about $387,000.

    Last year, the group received a $1 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion made through the law firm Alston & Bird, a finan­cial doc­u­ment obtained by The New York Times showed. A spokesman for the firm said that Alston & Bird “has nev­er con­tributed to Project Ver­i­tas on its own behalf, nor is it a client of ours.” The spokesman declined to say on whose behalf the con­tri­bu­tion was made.

    The finan­cial doc­u­ment also list­ed the names of oth­ers who gave much small­er amounts to Project Ver­i­tas last year. Sev­er­al of them con­firmed their dona­tions.

    The group has also become inter­twined with the polit­i­cal activ­i­ties of Mr. Trump and his fam­i­ly. The Trump Foun­da­tion gave $20,000 to Project Ver­i­tas in 2015, the year that Mr. Trump began his bid for the pres­i­den­cy. The next year, dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial debate with Hillary Clin­ton, Mr. Trump claimed with­out sub­stan­ti­a­tion that videos released by Mr. O’Keefe showed that Mrs. Clin­ton and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma had paid peo­ple to incite vio­lence at ral­lies for Mr. Trump.

    In a book pub­lished in 2018, Mr. O’Keefe wrote that Mr. Trump years ear­li­er had encour­aged him to infil­trate Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty and obtain Mr. Obama’s records.

    Last month, Project Ver­i­tas made pub­lic secret­ly record­ed video of a long­time ABC News cor­re­spon­dent who was crit­i­cal of the network’s polit­i­cal cov­er­age and its empha­sis on busi­ness con­sid­er­a­tions over jour­nal­ism. Many con­ser­v­a­tives have glee­ful­ly pounced on Project Veritas’s dis­clo­sures, includ­ing one par­tic­u­lar­ly influ­en­tial voice: Don­ald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.

    The web­site for Mr. O’Keefe’s com­ing wed­ding list­ed Don­ald Trump Jr. as an invit­ed guest.

    Mr. Prince invit­ed Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives — includ­ing Mr. O’Keefe — to his family’s Wyoming ranch for train­ing in 2017, The Inter­cept report­ed last year. Mr. O’Keefe and oth­ers shared social media pho­tos of tak­ing tar­get prac­tice with guns at the ranch, includ­ing one post from Mr. O’Keefe say­ing that with the train­ing, Project Ver­i­tas will be “the next great intel­li­gence agency.” Mr. Prince had hired a for­mer MI6 offi­cer to help train the Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives, The Inter­cept wrote, but it did not iden­ti­fy the offi­cer.

    Mr. Sed­don reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed Mr. O’Keefe about the oper­a­tion against the Michi­gan teach­ers’ union, accord­ing to inter­nal Project Ver­i­tas emails, where the lan­guage of the group’s lead­ers is mar­bled with spy jar­gon.

    They used a code name — Lib­er­tyU — for their oper­a­tive inside the orga­ni­za­tion, Marisa Jorge, who grad­u­at­ed from Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty in Vir­ginia, one of the nation’s largest Chris­t­ian col­leges. Mr. Sed­don wrote that Ms. Jorge “copied a great many doc­u­ments from the file room,” and Mr. O’Keefe bragged that the group would be able to get “a ton more access agents inside the edu­ca­tion­al estab­lish­ment.”

    The emails refer to oth­er oper­a­tions, includ­ing week­ly case updates, along with train­ing activ­i­ties that involved “oper­a­tional tar­get­ing.” Project Ver­i­tas redact­ed specifics about those oper­a­tions from the mes­sages.

    In August 2017, Ms. Jorge wrote to Mr. Sed­don that she had man­aged to record a local union leader talk­ing about Ms. DeVos and oth­er top­ics.

    “Good stuff,” Mr. Sed­don wrote back. “Did you receive the spare cam­era yet?”

    As edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary, Ms. DeVos has been a vocal crit­ic of teach­ers’ unions, say­ing in 2018 that they have a “stran­gle­hold” over politi­cians at the fed­er­al and state lev­els. She and Mr. Prince grew up in Michi­gan, where their father made a for­tune in the auto parts busi­ness.

    AFT Michi­gan sued Project Ver­i­tas in fed­er­al court, alleg­ing tres­pass­ing, eaves­drop­ping and oth­er offens­es. The teach­ers’ union is ask­ing for more than $3 mil­lion in dam­ages, accus­ing the group of being a “vig­i­lante orga­ni­za­tion which claims to be ded­i­cat­ed to expos­ing cor­rup­tion. It is, instead, an enti­ty ded­i­cat­ed to a spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal agen­da.”

    Project Ver­i­tas has said its activ­i­ties are legal and pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment, and the case is sched­uled to go to tri­al in the fall.

    Oth­er Project Ver­i­tas employ­ees on the emails include Joe Hal­der­man, an award-win­ning for­mer tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er who in 2010 plead­ed guilty to try­ing to extort $2 mil­lion from the come­di­an David Let­ter­man. Mr. Hal­der­man was copied on sev­er­al mes­sages pro­vid­ing updates about the Michi­gan oper­a­tion, and in one mes­sage, he gave instruc­tions to Ms. Jorge. Project Ver­i­tas tax fil­ings list Mr. Hal­der­man as a “project man­ag­er.”

    Two oth­er employ­ees, Gaz Thomas and Samuel Cham­ber­lain, were also iden­ti­fied in emails and appeared to play impor­tant roles in the Michi­gan oper­a­tion. Efforts to locate Mr. Thomas were unsuc­cess­ful. A man named Samuel Cham­ber­lain who matched the descrip­tion of the one employed by Mr. O’Keefe denied he worked for Project Ver­i­tas. He did not respond to fol­low-up phone mes­sages or an email.

    Last year, Project Ver­i­tas sub­mit­ted a pro­posed list of wit­ness­es for the tri­al over the law­suit. Mr. Cham­ber­lain and Mr. Thomas were on the list. Mr. Sed­don was not.

    Ms. Jorge, 25, did not respond to email address­es asso­ci­at­ed with her Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty account. In an archived ver­sion of her LinkedIn page, Ms. Jorge wrote she had a deep inter­est in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and hoped one day to serve on the Supreme Court after attend­ing law school.

    In a YouTube video, Mr. O’Keefe described the law­suit as “friv­o­lous” and point­ed to a por­tion of the depo­si­tion in which David Heck­er, the pres­i­dent of AFT Michi­gan, said that one of the goals of the law­suit was to “stop Project Ver­i­tas from doing the kind of work that it does.”

    Ran­di Wein­garten, the pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, said in a state­ment: “Let’s be clear who the wrong­do­er is here: Project Ver­i­tas used a fake intern to lie her way into our Michi­gan office, to steal doc­u­ments and to spy — and they got caught. We’re just try­ing to hold them account­able for this indus­tri­al espi­onage.”

    In 2018, Ms. Jorge infil­trat­ed the con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of Ms. Span­berg­er, pos­ing as a cam­paign vol­un­teer. At the time, Ms. Span­berg­er was run­ning to unseat a sit­ting Repub­li­can con­gress­man in a race both par­ties con­sid­ered impor­tant for con­trol of the House. Ms. Jorge was even­tu­al­ly exposed and kicked out of the cam­paign office.

    It was unclear whether Mr. Sed­don was involved in plan­ning that oper­a­tion.

    Mr. Sed­don was a long­time British intel­li­gence offi­cer who served around the world, includ­ing in Wash­ing­ton in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He is mar­ried to an Amer­i­can diplo­mat, Alice Sed­don, who is serv­ing in the Amer­i­can con­sulate in Lagos, Nige­ria.

    Mr. O’Keefe and his group have tak­en aim at tar­gets over the years includ­ing Planned Par­ent­hood, The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and Democ­ra­cy Part­ners, a group that con­sults with lib­er­al and pro­gres­sive elec­toral caus­es. In 2016, a Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tive infil­trat­ed Democ­ra­cy Part­ners using a fake name and fab­ri­cat­ed résumé and made secret record­ings of the staff. The year after the sting, Democ­ra­cy Part­ners sued Project Ver­i­tas, and its lawyers have since deposed Mr. O’Keefe.

    In that depo­si­tion, Mr. O’Keefe defend­ed the group’s under­cov­er tac­tics, say­ing they were part of a long tra­di­tion of inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism going back to muck­rak­ing reporters like Upton Sin­clair. “I’m not ashamed of the meth­ods that we use or the record­ings that we use,” he said.

    He was asked whether he had pro­vid­ed any of the group’s secret record­ings of Democ­ra­cy Part­ners to the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee or any mem­ber of the Trump fam­i­ly. He said that he did not think so.

    In 2010, Mr. O’ Keefe and three oth­ers plead­ed guilty to a fed­er­al mis­de­meanor after admit­ting they entered a gov­ern­ment build­ing in New Orleans under false pre­tens­es as part of a sting.

    ———–

    “Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infil­trate Lib­er­al Groups” by Mark Mazzetti and Adam Gold­man; The New York Times; 03/07/2020

    “Both Project Ver­i­tas and Mr. Prince have ties to Pres­i­dent Trump’s aides and fam­i­ly. Whether any Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials or advis­ers to the pres­i­dent were involved in the oper­a­tions, even tac­it­ly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vig­or­ous pri­vate cam­paign to try to under­mine polit­i­cal groups or indi­vid­u­als per­ceived to be in oppo­si­tion to Mr. Trump’s agen­da.”

    Was this a Trump-involved pri­vate spy oper­a­tion? There’s no direct evi­dence of that yet, but the fact that the Trump fam­i­ly has deep ties to both Prince and Project Ver­i­tas and a loves dirty tricks itself would almost make it sur­pris­ing if the Trumps weren’t involved:

    ...
    The finan­cial doc­u­ment also list­ed the names of oth­ers who gave much small­er amounts to Project Ver­i­tas last year. Sev­er­al of them con­firmed their dona­tions.

    The group has also become inter­twined with the polit­i­cal activ­i­ties of Mr. Trump and his fam­i­ly. The Trump Foun­da­tion gave $20,000 to Project Ver­i­tas in 2015, the year that Mr. Trump began his bid for the pres­i­den­cy. The next year, dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial debate with Hillary Clin­ton, Mr. Trump claimed with­out sub­stan­ti­a­tion that videos released by Mr. O’Keefe showed that Mrs. Clin­ton and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma had paid peo­ple to incite vio­lence at ral­lies for Mr. Trump.

    In a book pub­lished in 2018, Mr. O’Keefe wrote that Mr. Trump years ear­li­er had encour­aged him to infil­trate Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty and obtain Mr. Obama’s records.

    The web­site for Mr. O’Keefe’s com­ing wed­ding list­ed Don­ald Trump Jr. as an invit­ed guest.
    ...

    But whether or not the Trump team was direct­ly involved with this, it’s undoubt­ed­ly the case that the oper­a­tion worked in the inter­est of Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, a vocal crit­ic of teach­ers unions:

    ...
    As edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary, Ms. DeVos has been a vocal crit­ic of teach­ers’ unions, say­ing in 2018 that they have a “stran­gle­hold” over politi­cians at the fed­er­al and state lev­els. She and Mr. Prince grew up in Michi­gan, where their father made a for­tune in the auto parts busi­ness.
    ...

    It sounds like the spy train­ing start­ed in 2016 dur­ing the US pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. One of the ex-spies involved, Richard Sed­don, hap­pens to be a long­time British intel­li­gence offi­cer who is mar­ried to an Amer­i­can diplo­mat, Alice Sed­don:

    ...
    Mr. Prince appears to have become inter­est­ed in using for­mer spies to train Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives in espi­onage tac­tics some­time dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Reach­ing out to sev­er­al intel­li­gence vet­er­ans — and occa­sion­al­ly using Mr. Sed­don to make the pitch — Mr. Prince said he want­ed the Project Ver­i­tas employ­ees to learn skills like how to recruit sources and how to con­duct clan­des­tine record­ings, among oth­er sur­veil­lance tech­niques.

    ...

    Mr. Prince invit­ed Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives — includ­ing Mr. O’Keefe — to his family’s Wyoming ranch for train­ing in 2017, The Inter­cept report­ed last year. Mr. O’Keefe and oth­ers shared social media pho­tos of tak­ing tar­get prac­tice with guns at the ranch, includ­ing one post from Mr. O’Keefe say­ing that with the train­ing, Project Ver­i­tas will be “the next great intel­li­gence agency.” Mr. Prince had hired a for­mer MI6 offi­cer to help train the Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives, The Inter­cept wrote, but it did not iden­ti­fy the offi­cer.

    ...

    Mr. Sed­don was a long­time British intel­li­gence offi­cer who served around the world, includ­ing in Wash­ing­ton in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He is mar­ried to an Amer­i­can diplo­mat, Alice Sed­don, who is serv­ing in the Amer­i­can con­sulate in Lagos, Nige­ria.
    ...

    The oper­a­tions to infil­trate the teach­ers union was in 2017. The same oper­a­tive infil­trat­ed Abi­gail Span­berg­er’s 2018 cam­paign. Records show Project Ver­i­tas received $8.6 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions and grants in 2018 alone. It rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not those grants were made, in part, with these oper­a­tions in mind:

    ...
    One of the for­mer spies, an ex-MI6 offi­cer named Richard Sed­don, helped run a 2017 oper­a­tion to copy files and record con­ver­sa­tions in a Michi­gan office of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, one of the largest teach­ers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Sed­don direct­ed an under­cov­er oper­a­tive to secret­ly tape the union’s local lead­ers and try to gath­er infor­ma­tion that could be made pub­lic to dam­age the orga­ni­za­tion, doc­u­ments show.

    Using a dif­fer­ent alias the next year, the same under­cov­er oper­a­tive infil­trat­ed the con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of Abi­gail Span­berg­er, then a for­mer C.I.A. offi­cer who went on to win an an impor­tant House seat in Vir­ginia as a Demo­c­rat. The cam­paign dis­cov­ered the oper­a­tive and fired her.

    Both oper­a­tions were run by Project Ver­i­tas, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that has gained atten­tion using hid­den cam­eras and micro­phones for sting oper­a­tions on news orga­ni­za­tions, Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and lib­er­al advo­ca­cy groups. Mr. Seddon’s role in the teach­ers’ union oper­a­tion — detailed in inter­nal Project Ver­i­tas emails that have emerged from the dis­cov­ery process of a court bat­tle between the group and the union — has not pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed, nor has Mr. Prince’s role in recruit­ing Mr. Sed­don for the group’s activ­i­ties.

    ...

    Once a small oper­a­tion run­ning on a shoe­string bud­get, Project Ver­i­tas in recent years has had a surge in dona­tions from both pri­vate donors and con­ser­v­a­tive foun­da­tions. Accord­ing to its lat­est pub­licly avail­able tax fil­ing, Project Ver­i­tas received $8.6 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions and grants in 2018. Mr. O’Keefe earned about $387,000.

    Last year, the group received a $1 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion made through the law firm Alston & Bird, a finan­cial doc­u­ment obtained by The New York Times showed. A spokesman for the firm said that Alston & Bird “has nev­er con­tributed to Project Ver­i­tas on its own behalf, nor is it a client of ours.” The spokesman declined to say on whose behalf the con­tri­bu­tion was made.
    ...

    Dis­turb­ing, it does­n’t sound like the oper­a­tive used in these oper­a­tions, Marisa Jorge, is the only per­son Project Ver­i­tas sent in to infil­trate the edu­ca­tion­al estab­lish­ment. In one email, O’Keefe brags about how the group would be able to get “a ton more access agents inside the edu­ca­tion­al estab­lish­ment”:

    ...
    Mr. Sed­don reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed Mr. O’Keefe about the oper­a­tion against the Michi­gan teach­ers’ union, accord­ing to inter­nal Project Ver­i­tas emails, where the lan­guage of the group’s lead­ers is mar­bled with spy jar­gon.

    They used a code name — Lib­er­tyU — for their oper­a­tive inside the orga­ni­za­tion, Marisa Jorge, who grad­u­at­ed from Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty in Vir­ginia, one of the nation’s largest Chris­t­ian col­leges. Mr. Sed­don wrote that Ms. Jorge “copied a great many doc­u­ments from the file room,” and Mr. O’Keefe bragged that the group would be able to get “a ton more access agents inside the edu­ca­tion­al estab­lish­ment.”

    ...

    Ms. Jorge, 25, did not respond to email address­es asso­ci­at­ed with her Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty account. In an archived ver­sion of her LinkedIn page, Ms. Jorge wrote she had a deep inter­est in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and hoped one day to serve on the Supreme Court after attend­ing law school.

    ...

    In 2018, Ms. Jorge infil­trat­ed the con­gres­sion­al cam­paign of Ms. Span­berg­er, pos­ing as a cam­paign vol­un­teer. At the time, Ms. Span­berg­er was run­ning to unseat a sit­ting Repub­li­can con­gress­man in a race both par­ties con­sid­ered impor­tant for con­trol of the House. Ms. Jorge was even­tu­al­ly exposed and kicked out of the cam­paign office.
    ...

    Oth­er fig­ures in the spy­ing of the teach­ers union include Joe Hal­der­man, a for­mer tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er who tried to black­mail David Let­ter­man for $2 mil­lion in 2010:

    ...
    Oth­er Project Ver­i­tas employ­ees on the emails include Joe Hal­der­man, an award-win­ning for­mer tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er who in 2010 plead­ed guilty to try­ing to extort $2 mil­lion from the come­di­an David Let­ter­man. Mr. Hal­der­man was copied on sev­er­al mes­sages pro­vid­ing updates about the Michi­gan oper­a­tion, and in one mes­sage, he gave instruc­tions to Ms. Jorge. Project Ver­i­tas tax fil­ings list Mr. Hal­der­man as a “project man­ag­er.”
    ...

    And these oper­a­tions to spy on a teach­ers union and Span­berg­er’s cam­paign are just the two oper­a­tions that we know about. Emails made avail­able to the court dur­ing the dis­cov­ery process of the law­suit over the spy­ing refer to oth­er oper­a­tions, although details of those oper­a­tions were redact­ed by Project Ver­i­tas:

    ...
    The emails refer to oth­er oper­a­tions, includ­ing week­ly case updates, along with train­ing activ­i­ties that involved “oper­a­tional tar­get­ing.” Project Ver­i­tas redact­ed specifics about those oper­a­tions from the mes­sages.

    In August 2017, Ms. Jorge wrote to Mr. Sed­don that she had man­aged to record a local union leader talk­ing about Ms. DeVos and oth­er top­ics.

    “Good stuff,” Mr. Sed­don wrote back. “Did you receive the spare cam­era yet?”
    ...

    So we know there are oth­er spy­ing oper­a­tions. We just don’t know what they involve.

    But con­sid­er­ing that the same under­cov­er oper­a­tive, Marisa Jorge, was used to both spy on the teach­ers union and lat­er infil­trate Span­berg­er’s cam­paign, you have to won­der of Jorge is involved in these oth­er oper­a­tions. And that points to some­thing that can and should be done to min­i­mize the dam­age Project Ver­i­tas is capa­ble of: make the faces of known Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives wide­ly known! It’s not like there aren’t names and faces for these peo­ple. There’s an entire web­site, projectveritas.exposed, that is ded­i­cat­ed to doc­u­ment­ing and build­ing pro­files on the peo­ple involved with Project Ver­i­tas and it turns out they have a pro­file on Jorge with lots of pho­tos. And in that pro­file they note that before Jorge infil­trat­ed the Michi­gan chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­al of Teach­ers in 2017 and Abi­gail Span­berg­er’s cam­paign in 2018, she infil­trat­ed the cam­paigns of Deb­o­rah Ross, Roy Coop­er, and Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign in 2016. Both Ross and Coop­er are in North Car­oli­na, which pre­sum­ably helped with the logis­tics of infil­trat­ing mul­ti­ple cam­paigns simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Oh, and she infil­trat­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca in 2018, the same year she infil­trat­ed Span­berg­er’s cam­paign. So Jorge is some­one Democ­rats, unions, and any oth­er left-lean­ing group should be made aware of because she’s clear­ly some the group prefers to use. Plus, now she has that spy train­ing.

    So per­haps there should be a lot more done to spread the infor­ma­tion on Project Ver­i­tas Exposed. They have pho­tos and pro­files on a num­ber of dif­fer­ent under­cov­er oper­a­tives. Just look at the home page. Why not take those pho­tos and make online ads on left-wing sites like Dai­lyKos? Just like “Be on the look­out” ads. That’s prob­a­bly pret­ty cheap and you might be able to get some of these sites to allow the ads for free or at least for cheap. It would be a pub­lic ser­vice, after all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2020, 1:52 pm
  3. Pres­i­dent Trump just issued anoth­er pub­lic rebuke against one of his top offi­cials. This time it was FBI direc­to­ry Christo­pher Wray, who Trump described as “dis­ap­point­ing”. Why? Because Wray did­n’t do more to inves­ti­gate Trump’s fan­ta­sy claims about vast mail-in vot­er fraud. Keep in mind that Wray dis­missed mail-in vot­er fraud con­cerns dur­ing a con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny a cou­ple of weeks ago.

    And since prep­ping the Repub­li­can elec­torate to treat a Trump loss as the sign of mas­sive vot­er fraud (with the hopes of some­how forc­ing a vic­to­ry through non-demo­c­ra­t­ic means) has now become the core reelec­tion strat­e­gy of the Trump cam­paign, it’s worth not­ing one of the recent vot­er fraud rev­e­la­tions. They weren’t rev­e­la­tions about actu­al vot­er fraud. Instead, the rev­e­la­tions are about how a new ‘vot­er fraud’ sto­ry recent­ly pumped out by Project Ver­i­tas and pro­mot­ed by Don­ald Trump Jr. and the right-wing media ecosys­tem are hoax garbage. As both of the fol­low­ing arti­cles make clear, the alle­ga­tions in the Project Ver­i­tas video are either alle­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing about things that aren’t actu­al­ly ille­gal or selec­tive­ly edit­ed videos tak­en out of con­text. So this was a typ­i­cal Project Ver­i­tas release.

    The first excerpt below, we learn that Project Ver­i­tas and the right-wing media ecosys­tem had been hyp­ing the release of its vot­er fraud video for weeks, with an announced release date of Sep­tem­ber 28. But the video end­ed up being release a day ear­li­er, just hours after the sto­ry hit about Trump’s pay­ing almost noth­ing in income tax­es for years. The right-wing social media ecosys­tem rapid­ly pro­mot­ed the Project Ver­i­tas sto­ry and soon it was trend­ing on twit­ter and com­pet­ing with the tax returns sto­ry. It was a media move rem­i­nis­cent to the 2016 release of hacked emails in Octo­ber by Wik­ileaks just hours after the release of infa­mous Hol­ly­wood Access Trump tapes.

    The ear­ly release of the video ahead of the heav­i­ly pub­li­cized release date but just hours after the embar­rass­ing Trump tax return sto­ry was one of the data points that sug­gest­ed the video was released in a coor­di­nat­ed man­ner. But there was more direct evi­dence that Project Ver­i­tas was coor­di­nat­ing direct­ly with the White House. It turns out Don­ald Trump Jr. uploaded his own copy of the Project Ver­i­tas video sev­en min­utes after James O’Keefe uploaded the offi­cial video to Twit­ter. But Trump Jr’s ver­sion of the video did­n’t con­tain the “from James O’Keefe” label that O’Keefe’s had. In addi­tion, Trump Jr. uploaded the video to Face­book 10 min­utes before O’Keefe placed his own ver­sion there. The Trump White House is deny­ing there was any coor­di­na­tion.

    Now, in the sec­ond arti­cle excerpt below, we learn that one of the men fea­tured in the video is not only assert­ing that the footage of him was footage tak­en com­plete­ly out of con­text and decep­tive­ly edit­ed, but also that a man work­ing for Project Ver­i­tas offer him $10,000 to make of the vot­er fraud claims. Project Ver­i­tas videos have always been joke tripe but now that the Trump White House is going to be rely­ing on claims from groups like Project Ver­i­tas to spark a civ­il war if he los­es the elec­tion this joke tripe has tak­en on a dead­ly new lev­el of seri­ous­ness. Also recall how O’Keefe has been work­ing with Erik Prince to get mer­ce­nary spy train­ing for his oper­a­tives and that O’Keefe bragged that Project Ver­i­tas will be “the next great intel­li­gence agency”, so Project Ver­i­tas should real­ly be con­sid­ered a para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion at this point.

    Ok, first, here’s the NY Times piece on how researchers have iden­ti­fied the right-wing social media net­work that was hyp­ing the Project Ver­i­tas sto­ry well in advance of the video release and then all sud­den­ly pushed the sto­ry to the top of the social media trend­ing con­tent when the video was released a day in advance, hours after the Trump-tax­es sto­ry:

    The New York Times

    Project Ver­i­tas Video Was a ‘Coor­di­nat­ed Dis­in­for­ma­tion Cam­paign,’ Researchers Say

    The tim­ing of the decep­tive video, which accus­es Ilhan Omar of vot­er fraud, indi­cates that sev­er­al con­ser­v­a­tives, includ­ing Don­ald Trump Jr., may have known about it in advance.

    By Mag­gie Astor
    Sept. 29, 2020

    A decep­tive video released on Sun­day by the con­ser­v­a­tive activist James O’Keefe, which claimed through uniden­ti­fied sources and with no ver­i­fi­able evi­dence that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ilhan Omar’s cam­paign had col­lect­ed bal­lots ille­gal­ly, was prob­a­bly part of a coor­di­nat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion effort, accord­ing to researchers at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton.

    Mr. O’Keefe and his group, Project Ver­i­tas, appear to have made an abrupt deci­sion to release the video soon­er than planned after The New York Times pub­lished a sweep­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump’s tax­es, the researchers said. They also not­ed that the tim­ing and meta­da­ta of a Twit­ter post in which Mr. Trump’s son shared the video sug­gest­ed that he might have known about it in advance.

    Project Ver­i­tas had hyped the video on social media for sev­er­al days before pub­lish­ing it. In posts ampli­fied by oth­er promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tive accounts, Mr. O’Keefe teased what he said was evi­dence of vot­er fraud, and urged peo­ple to sign up at “ballot-harvesting.com” to receive the sup­posed evi­dence when it came out. (None of the mate­r­i­al in the video actu­al­ly proved vot­er fraud.)

    Mr. O’Keefe’s pro­mo­tion­al posts had said the video would be released on Mon­day, but Project Ver­i­tas released it on Sun­day instead, a few hours after the pub­li­ca­tion of The Times’s inves­ti­ga­tion. The researchers con­clud­ed that this tim­ing was unlike­ly to be a coin­ci­dence “giv­en the huge mar­ket­ing about a 9/28 release date,” they wrote in an analy­sis that Alex Sta­mos, who led the research team at the Stan­ford Inter­net Obser­va­to­ry, shared with The Times.

    “It’s a great exam­ple of what a coor­di­nat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign looks like: pre-seed­ing the ground and then simul­ta­ne­ous­ly hit­ting from a bunch of dif­fer­ent accounts at once,” Mr. Sta­mos said.

    Many of the same accounts that had shared pro­mo­tion­al tweets also shared the video as soon as it was released, mov­ing it quick­ly into Twitter’s trend­ing top­ics along­side The Times’s tax inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Rough­ly an hour after The Times pub­lished its arti­cle, Mike Lin­dell, chief exec­u­tive of MyP­il­low and hon­orary chair­man of Mr. Trump’s Min­neso­ta cam­paign, tweet­ed a video of him­self say­ing that Project Veritas’s sup­posed exposé would be released that night at 9 p.m. East­ern time.

    ...

    Mr. O’Keefe post­ed the video on Twit­ter at 9 p.m. on the dot, and the president’s son Don­ald Trump Jr. tweet­ed it just sev­en min­utes lat­er. Two min­utes after that, the president’s “war room” account retweet­ed him, and the pres­i­dent him­self soon began com­ment­ing.

    Notably, the video that the younger Mr. Trump post­ed did not have the “from James O’Keefe” label that appeared when oth­er Twit­ter users shared the video uploaded by Mr. O’Keefe.

    “This detail, along with video meta­da­ta demon­strat­ing that the Don­ald Trump Jr. ver­sion of the video was sep­a­rate­ly uploaded and re-encod­ed by Twit­ter, indi­cates that the Trump cam­paign pos­si­bly had access to the video before the gen­er­al pub­lic and rais­es ques­tions of coor­di­na­tion,” the Stan­ford and Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton researchers wrote, not­ing also that Mr. Trump post­ed the video on Face­book 10 min­utes before Mr. O’Keefe post­ed it there.

    Asked for com­ment, the Trump cam­paign said that Don­ald Trump Jr. had received a down­load­able link to the video after it was pub­licly released. It did not com­ment on Mr. Lindell’s post or on the tim­ing of the video’s release, and a spokesman for the younger Mr. Trump did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    The video con­tains footage of a man, iden­ti­fied as Liban Mohamed, show­ing off bal­lots he says he has col­lect­ed for a Min­neapo­lis City Coun­cil can­di­date — some­thing that, depend­ing on when the video was filmed, may not have been ille­gal, because a dis­trict court judge in July tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ed Minnesota’s ban on third par­ties col­lect­ing and return­ing large num­bers of com­plet­ed bal­lots. Mr. Mohamed was not work­ing for Ms. Omar.

    The video then claims that Demo­c­ra­t­ic oper­a­tives con­nect­ed to Ms. Omar’s cam­paign paid vot­ers to hand over blank mail-in bal­lots and filled them out. This would be ille­gal, but the alle­ga­tions come sole­ly from unnamed peo­ple who speak with Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives in the video and whose faces are not shown.

    On Mon­day, the Min­neapo­lis Police Depart­ment said it was “look­ing into the valid­i­ty” of the claims in the video, which a spokesman for Ms. Omar described as “a coor­di­nat­ed right wing effort to dele­git­imize a free and fair elec­tion.”

    Mr. O’Keefe and Project Ver­i­tas have a long his­to­ry of releas­ing manip­u­lat­ed or selec­tive­ly edit­ed footage pur­port­ing to show ille­gal con­duct by Democ­rats and lib­er­al groups.

    The researchers report­ed the video to mul­ti­ple social media plat­forms. Face­book added a link to its “vot­ing infor­ma­tion cen­ter” to one upload of the video but placed no notice on the orig­i­nal upload. Twit­ter, YouTube and Red­dit took no action. Tik­Tok was the only plat­form that removed all uploads of the video.

    ————

    “Project Ver­i­tas Video Was a ‘Coor­di­nat­ed Dis­in­for­ma­tion Cam­paign,’ Researchers Say” by Mag­gie Astor; The New York Times; 09/29/2020

    ““It’s a great exam­ple of what a coor­di­nat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign looks like: pre-seed­ing the ground and then simul­ta­ne­ous­ly hit­ting from a bunch of dif­fer­ent accounts at once,” Mr. Sta­mos said.”

    A coor­di­nat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign that includ­ed a coor­di­nat­ed hype-phase and then boost to ensure it’s tend­ing when it’s final­ly released. It’s the kind of cam­paign that obvi­ous­ly requires behind the scenes coor­di­na­tion with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent actors so it should come as no sur­prise that the Trump White House was one those behind the scenes actors. It should also come as no sur­prise that the Trump White House is implau­si­bly deny­ing these claims:

    ...
    Many of the same accounts that had shared pro­mo­tion­al tweets also shared the video as soon as it was released, mov­ing it quick­ly into Twitter’s trend­ing top­ics along­side The Times’s tax inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Rough­ly an hour after The Times pub­lished its arti­cle, Mike Lin­dell, chief exec­u­tive of MyP­il­low and hon­orary chair­man of Mr. Trump’s Min­neso­ta cam­paign, tweet­ed a video of him­self say­ing that Project Veritas’s sup­posed exposé would be released that night at 9 p.m. East­ern time.

    ...

    Mr. O’Keefe post­ed the video on Twit­ter at 9 p.m. on the dot, and the president’s son Don­ald Trump Jr. tweet­ed it just sev­en min­utes lat­er. Two min­utes after that, the president’s “war room” account retweet­ed him, and the pres­i­dent him­self soon began com­ment­ing.

    Notably, the video that the younger Mr. Trump post­ed did not have the “from James O’Keefe” label that appeared when oth­er Twit­ter users shared the video uploaded by Mr. O’Keefe.

    “This detail, along with video meta­da­ta demon­strat­ing that the Don­ald Trump Jr. ver­sion of the video was sep­a­rate­ly uploaded and re-encod­ed by Twit­ter, indi­cates that the Trump cam­paign pos­si­bly had access to the video before the gen­er­al pub­lic and rais­es ques­tions of coor­di­na­tion,” the Stan­ford and Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton researchers wrote, not­ing also that Mr. Trump post­ed the video on Face­book 10 min­utes before Mr. O’Keefe post­ed it there.
    ...

    And what alle­ga­tions there are in the video are either alle­ga­tions of some­thing not nec­es­sar­i­ly ille­gal or alle­ga­tions of things that are def­i­nite­ly ille­gal but are alleged only from unnamed peo­ple whose faces are not shown:

    ...
    The video con­tains footage of a man, iden­ti­fied as Liban Mohamed, show­ing off bal­lots he says he has col­lect­ed for a Min­neapo­lis City Coun­cil can­di­date — some­thing that, depend­ing on when the video was filmed, may not have been ille­gal, because a dis­trict court judge in July tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ed Minnesota’s ban on third par­ties col­lect­ing and return­ing large num­bers of com­plet­ed bal­lots. Mr. Mohamed was not work­ing for Ms. Omar.

    The video then claims that Demo­c­ra­t­ic oper­a­tives con­nect­ed to Ms. Omar’s cam­paign paid vot­ers to hand over blank mail-in bal­lots and filled them out. This would be ille­gal, but the alle­ga­tions come sole­ly from unnamed peo­ple who speak with Project Ver­i­tas oper­a­tives in the video and whose faces are not shown.
    ...

    And since videos of this nature — with anony­mous sources mak­ing claims — can obvi­ous­ly be hoaxed and since Project Ver­i­tas has a long track record of hoax­es and decep­tive­ly edit­ed videos, we have to ask if any of the anony­mous peo­ple mak­ing these claims were paid or just actors? And, sure enough, we got our answer: Liban Osman — one of the peo­ple fea­tured promi­nent­ly in the video alleged­ly engaged in ille­gal bal­lot har­vest­ing — is not only mak­ing claims about wild­ly decep­tive edit­ing of the videos he’s in but he’s also claim­ing he was offered $10,000 by a com­mu­ni­ty activist work­ing for Project Ver­i­tas to make the claims. That’s was we learned a few days ago in a local Twin Cities report on Fox 9.

    Osman­’s broth­er, Jamal Osman, also just ran for elec­tion this year and is the new­ly elect­ed Ward 6 Min­neapo­lis City Coun­cil­man. The com­mu­ni­ty activist who alleged­ly made the bribe, Omar Jamal, told Osman, “‘Why are you defend­ing Ilhan Omar?’...’They (Project Ver­i­tas) are not after you or your broth­er. Why are you defend­ing her?’’”

    Osman also asserts that the clip of video where he appears to be ille­gal­ly har­vest­ing bal­lots for Ilhan Omar is a decep­tive­ly edit­ed com­pi­la­tion of two videos. One video of Osman in a car pick­ing up bal­lots is from July. Osman believes it was late July, but the Project Ver­i­tas video claims it was from ear­ly July. This is an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion because court rul­ings allowed for more than three bal­lots to be picked up by vol­un­teers — known as “bal­lot har­vest­ing” — start­ing from July 28 to Sep­tem­ber 4 of this year. This is one rea­son it’s unclear if what the video is show­ing is ille­gal at all.

    But then the video goes on to sug­gest that Osman was being paid by Omar’s cam­paign to engage in ille­gal bal­lot har­vest­ing by play­ing video of Osman say­ing, “Mon­ey is every­thing. It’s the key to this world.” Osman says this video was actu­al­ly tak­en in August and was direct­ed at the oppo­nents of his broth­er in the Ward 6 spe­cial elec­tion.

    So how did Project Ver­i­tas get Osman­’s videos? He uploaded them to SnapChat. So it appears that Project Ver­i­tas took two sep­a­rate SnapChat videos that Osman uploaded while he was engaged in legal bal­lot har­vest­ing, one from late July and one from August, then spliced them togeth­er and claimed it was from ear­ly July and indi­cat­ing he was paid to bal­lot har­vest. Or we could take Project Ver­i­tas at its word and assume that Osman just inten­tion­al­ly uploaded to SnapChat incrim­i­nat­ing videos of him­self ille­gal­ly bal­lot har­vest­ing for fun. Which side should we believe? Hmmm...

    Note that Fox 9 got to view the raw videos that Osman is refer­ring to and it is clear that the video post­ed by Project Ver­i­tas is a con­struct of these two videos.

    And that’s not the only inci­dent of fraud in the video. There’s also a scene that appears to show­ing some­one receive $200 for bal­lots. But two sources told FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors that the man receiv­ing the mon­ey is actu­al­ly a rel­a­tive of Omar Jamal and the mon­ey was intend­ed for the fam­i­ly of a sick rel­a­tive in Soma­lia. So as we should have expect­ed, we have anoth­er Project Ver­i­tas video that is a com­bi­na­tion of exag­ger­a­tion, decep­tion, and out­right fraud:

    FOX 9

    Sub­ject of Project Ver­i­tas vot­er fraud sto­ry says he was offered bribe

    By Tom Lyden
    Pub­lished 10/07/2020
    Updat­ed 10/08/2020

    (FOX 9) — Liban Osman is still try­ing to fig­ure out how he became a sym­bol of vot­er fraud in Amer­i­ca.

    “It’s insane,” said the broth­er of new­ly elect­ed Ward 6 Min­neapo­lis City Coun­cil­man Jamal Osman.

    Liban Osman is fea­tured promi­nent­ly in a video released last week by the con­ser­v­a­tive media oper­a­tion Project Ver­i­tas claim­ing there is “mas­sive vot­er fraud” in Min­neso­ta orches­trat­ed by Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar.

    In his first inter­view, Liban Osman tells the FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors he was offered $10,000 by com­mu­ni­ty activist Omar Jamal to say he was col­lect­ing bal­lots for Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar.

    “He was set­ting me up,” said Liban Osman.

    Tale of Two Videos

    It is clear from the raw video, obtained by FOX 9, that Liban Osman was work­ing for his brother’s cam­paign.

    Liban Osman admits the Project Ver­i­tas video footage looks incrim­i­nat­ing, but he said the group delib­er­ate­ly left the full con­text on the cut­ting room floor. Project Ver­i­tas used two sep­a­rate videos he post­ed on Snapchat while dri­ving in his car to make it appear as if he was ille­gal­ly pick­ing up bal­lots and offer­ing mon­ey for votes, he said.

    In a video from July, Liban Osman said he was col­lect­ing mail in bal­lots from sick and elder­ly vot­ers who had request­ed them through the cam­paign.

    Liban Osman denies that he filled out the bal­lots or altered them in any way. He said what appears to be open bal­lots lay­ing on the dash of his car are actu­al­ly the envelopes the bal­lots came in. He said vot­ers con­cerned about iden­ti­ty theft asked him to shred the envelopes.

    Despite his boast that he had 300 bal­lots in the car, he said the actu­al num­ber was clos­er to 20.

    ‘Mon­ey Is Every­thing’

    Because of var­i­ous court deci­sions, so-called ‘bal­lot har­vest­ing’ — col­lect­ing more than the statu­to­ry lim­it of three bal­lots — was per­mit­ted dur­ing a five-week peri­od this sum­mer, from July 28 to Sep­tem­ber 4.

    An attor­ney for Project Ver­i­tas claims Liban Osman’s Snapchat video col­lect­ing mail-in bal­lots was record­ed in ear­ly July, mak­ing it ille­gal at the time to har­vest more than three bal­lots.

    Liban Osman could not recall the exact date he record­ed the video, but said he believed it was in late July.

    That video from July is edit­ed with anoth­er video from August, when Liban Osman is heard boast­ing about mon­ey in pol­i­tics. “Mon­ey is every­thing. It’s the key to this world,” he says.

    The unedit­ed video reveals the com­ments were clear­ly direct­ed at his brother’s 11 oppo­nents in the Ward 6 spe­cial elec­tion, many of whom were oper­at­ing shoe-string cam­paigns.

    ‘Why are you defend­ing Ilhan Omar?’

    Liban Osman said he was approached by com­mu­ni­ty activist Omar Jamal, who is a so-called ‘insid­er’ for Project Ver­i­tas and appears to be their pri­ma­ry source.

    Omar Jamal, who he had not met pre­vi­ous­ly, told him Project Ver­i­tas would pay him $10,000 to say he was har­vest­ing bal­lots for Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar.

    “He said, ‘Why are you defend­ing Ilhan Omar?’” Liban recounts. “’They (Project Ver­i­tas) are not after you or your broth­er. Why are you defend­ing her?’’”

    “I told him he was insane and walked away,” Liban Osman said.

    Project Ver­i­tas denies manip­u­lat­ing or mis­rep­re­sent­ing its under­cov­er video and claims it nev­er offered Liban Osman $10,000.

    Project Ver­i­tas Responds

    “These are wild, and crazy, and base­less accu­sa­tions,” said Jered Ede, chief legal offi­cer for Project Ver­i­tas.

    “This, to me, is a man who is drown­ing in the con­se­quences of his own actions, who is try­ing to grasp at every pos­si­ble straw to keep him­self from going under,” Ede said.

    In a sec­ond report from Project Ver­i­tas, sur­rep­ti­tious­ly record­ed video shows a man receiv­ing $200 in “pock­et mon­ey” in exchange for his agree­ment to vote for Ilhan Omar.

    James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Ver­i­tas, calls it “an explo­sive piece of tape.”

    But two sources tell the FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors the man is a rel­a­tive of Omar Jamal, and that dur­ing the encounter out­side Cedar River­side Apart­ments, it is Jamal who is hand­ing the man $200 which was intend­ed for the fam­i­ly of a sick rel­a­tive in Soma­lia.

    The Project Ver­i­tas reports also con­tend, with­out evi­dence, that the cash for bal­lots scheme is being bank rolled by Lake Street busi­ness­man Basim Sabri.

    In the sec­ond video, an anony­mous woman said, “He’s Pales­tin­ian. He’s fund­ing the whole thing.”

    “It’s so un-Amer­i­can, it’s so ille­gal,” said Sabri, reached at his home in Mia­mi.

    Sabri pro­vid­ed the FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors with a let­ter from his attor­ney threat­en­ing to sue Project Ver­i­tas for defama­tion if they do not remove the video.

    Sabri acknowl­edged that he is a long-time sup­port­er of Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar, and said he has also com­plained to the DFL about pri­or vot­ing fraud in Ward 6. “I would nev­er do that. Ever. Nev­er. Because I would be a hyp­ocrite,” said Sabri.

    For his part, Omar Jamal has used his appear­ance in the Project Ver­i­tas reports to raise near­ly $30,000. In an inter­view with Soma­li Amer­i­can TV, he report­ed­ly back­tracked on claims he wit­nessed cash being exchanged for bal­lots.

    Omar Jamal declined an inter­view request, refer­ring ques­tions instead to Project Ver­i­tas.

    Pres­i­dent Trump has repeat­ed­ly tweet­ed about the Min­neso­ta vot­er fraud claims and men­tioned it at his cam­paign stop in Duluth last week.

    “What about Omar that she gets caught har­vest­ing,” Trump bel­lowed at the cam­paign event short­ly before he became sick with COVID-19. “What the hell is going on?”

    Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar’s cam­paign has cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly and repeat­ed­ly denied any involve­ment in vot­ing fraud, har­vest­ing bal­lots, or pay­ing for votes.

    A Pat­tern of Dis­in­for­ma­tion

    The lack of ver­i­fi­able evi­dence, alle­ga­tions of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion and entrap­ment, and coor­di­na­tion with con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es, has been part of Project Ver­i­tas’ method of oper­a­tion.

    ...

    A week lat­er the first Project Ver­i­tas video on alleged vot­er fraud in Min­neso­ta had been viewed more than one mil­lion times on YouTube. The sec­ond report had been viewed more than a half-mil­lion times.

    ————

    “Sub­ject of Project Ver­i­tas vot­er fraud sto­ry says he was offered bribe” by Tom Lyden; FOX 9; 10/07/2020

    “In his first inter­view, Liban Osman tells the FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors he was offered $10,000 by com­mu­ni­ty activist Omar Jamal to say he was col­lect­ing bal­lots for Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar.”

    Is that the going rate for fake wit­ness­es? $10,000? You have to won­der how many peo­ple have been giv­en these kinds of offers. It’s almost amaz­ing there haven’t been more peo­ple com­ing out with fake claims of all sorts of right-wing fan­tasies. You also have to won­der if Omar Jamal is being paid too or is he a gen­uine far right fel­low trav­el­er:

    ...
    Liban Osman said he was approached by com­mu­ni­ty activist Omar Jamal, who is a so-called ‘insid­er’ for Project Ver­i­tas and appears to be their pri­ma­ry source.

    Omar Jamal, who he had not met pre­vi­ous­ly, told him Project Ver­i­tas would pay him $10,000 to say he was har­vest­ing bal­lots for Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar.

    “He said, ‘Why are you defend­ing Ilhan Omar?’” Liban recounts. “’They (Project Ver­i­tas) are not after you or your broth­er. Why are you defend­ing her?’’”

    “I told him he was insane and walked away,” Liban Osman said.
    ...

    And note how, at this point, we are faced with a deci­sion of whose word to believe? The word of Liban Osman or the word of the ser­i­al liars at Project Ver­i­tas? The ser­i­al liars at Project Ver­i­tas who are already demon­stra­bly lying in this case. The Fox 9 inves­ti­ga­tors got to see the full clip of the videos pro­vid­ed by Osman. It’s unam­bigu­ous that Project Ver­i­tas took clips from two dif­fer­ent days and spliced them togeth­er. This isn’t in ques­tion. Project Ver­i­tas has already been caught lying about this video:

    ...
    It is clear from the raw video, obtained by FOX 9, that Liban Osman was work­ing for his brother’s cam­paign.

    Liban Osman admits the Project Ver­i­tas video footage looks incrim­i­nat­ing, but he said the group delib­er­ate­ly left the full con­text on the cut­ting room floor. Project Ver­i­tas used two sep­a­rate videos he post­ed on Snapchat while dri­ving in his car to make it appear as if he was ille­gal­ly pick­ing up bal­lots and offer­ing mon­ey for votes, he said.

    In a video from July, Liban Osman said he was col­lect­ing mail in bal­lots from sick and elder­ly vot­ers who had request­ed them through the cam­paign.

    Liban Osman denies that he filled out the bal­lots or altered them in any way. He said what appears to be open bal­lots lay­ing on the dash of his car are actu­al­ly the envelopes the bal­lots came in. He said vot­ers con­cerned about iden­ti­ty theft asked him to shred the envelopes.

    ...

    Because of var­i­ous court deci­sions, so-called ‘bal­lot har­vest­ing’ — col­lect­ing more than the statu­to­ry lim­it of three bal­lots — was per­mit­ted dur­ing a five-week peri­od this sum­mer, from July 28 to Sep­tem­ber 4.

    An attor­ney for Project Ver­i­tas claims Liban Osman’s Snapchat video col­lect­ing mail-in bal­lots was record­ed in ear­ly July, mak­ing it ille­gal at the time to har­vest more than three bal­lots.

    Liban Osman could not recall the exact date he record­ed the video, but said he believed it was in late July.

    That video from July is edit­ed with anoth­er video from August, when Liban Osman is heard boast­ing about mon­ey in pol­i­tics. “Mon­ey is every­thing. It’s the key to this world,” he says.

    The unedit­ed video reveals the com­ments were clear­ly direct­ed at his brother’s 11 oppo­nents in the Ward 6 spe­cial elec­tion, many of whom were oper­at­ing shoe-string cam­paigns.
    ...

    Then there’s the footage of the man receiv­ing $200 for bal­lots that was real­ly just Omar Jamal giv­ing mon­ey to his rel­a­tive. And Jamal even admit­ted this lat­er in an inter­view with Soma­li Amer­i­can TV:

    ...
    In a sec­ond report from Project Ver­i­tas, sur­rep­ti­tious­ly record­ed video shows a man receiv­ing $200 in “pock­et mon­ey” in exchange for his agree­ment to vote for Ilhan Omar.

    James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Ver­i­tas, calls it “an explo­sive piece of tape.”

    But two sources tell the FOX 9 Inves­ti­ga­tors the man is a rel­a­tive of Omar Jamal, and that dur­ing the encounter out­side Cedar River­side Apart­ments, it is Jamal who is hand­ing the man $200 which was intend­ed for the fam­i­ly of a sick rel­a­tive in Soma­lia.

    ...

    For his part, Omar Jamal has used his appear­ance in the Project Ver­i­tas reports to raise near­ly $30,000. In an inter­view with Soma­li Amer­i­can TV, he report­ed­ly back­tracked on claims he wit­nessed cash being exchanged for bal­lots.

    Omar Jamal declined an inter­view request, refer­ring ques­tions instead to Project Ver­i­tas.
    ...

    Note in the inter­view for Soma­li Amer­i­can TV, Jamal claims the footage of the exchange of mon­ey was intend­ed to be a demon­stra­tion of how such trans­ac­tions are done. Which, of course, it not at all how it was por­trayed by Project Ver­i­tas.

    And as the arti­cle notes, despite this video being dis­cred­it­ed almost imme­di­ate­ly, Pres­i­dent Trump was tout­ing this sto­ry at one of his COVID super-spread cam­paign in Min­neso­ta just short­ly before he was offi­cial­ly announced as being infect­ed:

    ...
    Pres­i­dent Trump has repeat­ed­ly tweet­ed about the Min­neso­ta vot­er fraud claims and men­tioned it at his cam­paign stop in Duluth last week.

    “What about Omar that she gets caught har­vest­ing,” Trump bel­lowed at the cam­paign event short­ly before he became sick with COVID-19. “What the hell is going on?”

    ...

    A week lat­er the first Project Ver­i­tas video on alleged vot­er fraud in Min­neso­ta had been viewed more than one mil­lion times on YouTube. The sec­ond report had been viewed more than a half-mil­lion times.
    ...

    It’s in keep­ing with the theme that’s emerged around Project Ver­i­tas: no mat­ter how many times they’ve been dis­cred­it­ed as ser­i­al liars they con­tin­ue to be treat­ed as a cred­i­ble source by the con­ser­v­a­tive media and the GOP. Because of course. The con­ser­v­a­tive media and GOP are just as dis­cred­it­ed. And that’s why, as of today, this dis­cred­it­ed Project Ver­i­tas video is prob­a­bly going to be one of the key pieces of ‘evi­dence’ the Trump admin­is­tra­tion trots out when it attempts to spark a civ­il war argu­ing the elec­tion was stolen. Which is pret­ty fit­ting if you think about it. If the US is going to fight a civ­il war over an avalanche of right-wing lies and dis­in­for­ma­tion as the pri­ma­ry ’cause’, it’s hard to think of a more fit­ting group to pro­vide the nec­es­sary lies and dis­in­for­ma­tion than Project Ver­i­tas.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 9, 2020, 4:03 pm

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