Another James O’Keefe ‘Project Veri-shady’ ambush backfires, reveals Beto O’Rourke campaign is compassionate
He’s ba-a-a-ack — to screw up again!
What happens when an effort to ride the coattails of Trump’s “invading aliens caravan” reveals that a candidate’s campaign has compassion for refugees? Oops!
Activists with the right-wing group Project Veritas embedded with campaigns of unknowing Democrats across the country ahead of the midterms. And in most cases, candidates didn’t know they were a target until they saw the finished videos.
So far, the controversial group led by founder James O’Keefe, has posted undercover videos with liberal campaign workers or candidates in six tight races. … O’Keefe’s tactics of secretly recording targets to expose them have attracted a barrage of criticism over the years and many of the group’s previous videos have been discredited partly because of the edits and cuts, allegations O’Keefe denied while talking to USA TODAY.
The campaign of Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, said Friday that staffers recently “took it upon themselves” to use campaign funds to donate supplies to an El Paso nonprofit and that the contributions — less than $300 total — will be “appropriately reported” to the Federal Election Commission.
The statement came in response to an undercover video from the controversial conservative group Project Veritas — a video Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz moved quickly to promote.
On Thursday night, Project Veritas released a nearly 24-minute video featuring undercover footage from the O’Rourke campaign, purporting to show staffers “using campaign resources to buy supplies and help transport Honduran aliens.” In a tweet Friday morning, Cruz sought to tie the staffers’ actions to the massive migrant caravan that is currently hundreds of miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border and has emerged as a campaign issue in races across the country.
And here’s the problem, Project Veri-Shady: What Team O’Rourke did is perfectly legal!
O’Rourke’s campaign said that the staffers were responding to an unrelated incident last week in which the federal government dropped off over 100 migrants seeking asylum at a bus station in downtown El Paso. The El Paso Times reported that bus station officials then called Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit immigrant shelter.
“Staff members took it upon themselves to use prepaid cards from one of our more than 700 field offices to buy baby wipes, diapers, water, fruit and granola bars, and donate them to a local humanitarian nonprofit (Annunciation House) that helps mothers and children in the community,” O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said in a statement. “The value was under $300 and it will be appropriately reported to the FEC.”
It is not unusual for campaigns to make donations to groups like Annunciation House. Campaigns are allowed to give to charity “as long as the candidate does not receive compensation from the charitable organization before it has expended the entire amount donated,” according to the FEC website.