Dem ac­tivists lose jobs after O’Keefe sting

Edited video shows op­er­a­tive brag­ging about tac­tics to dis­rupt Trump’s ral­lies

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 -

Two lit­tle-known Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives have left their jobs after video in­ves­ti­ga­tions by con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist James O’Keefe’s Project Ver­i­tas found them en­ter­tain­ing dark no­tions about how to win elec­tions.

The se­cretly recorded, se­lec­tively edited video footage in­cludes Scott Fo­val, a Wis­con­sin-based lib­eral op­er­a­tive, brag­ging about de­ploy­ing trou­ble­mak­ers at ral­lies held by Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump.

Fo­val was laid off Monday by Amer­i­cans United for Change, where he had been na­tional field di­rec­tor.

The other fig­ure, Robert Creamer — a long­time lib­eral ac­tivist based in Wash­ing­ton and the hus­band of Illi­nois Demo­cratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky — said Tues­day night that he was “stepping back” from the work he was do­ing for the uni­fied Demo­cratic cam­paign for party nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The moves came after cov­er­age, led by con­ser­va­tives and so­cial me­dia, of O’Keefe’s video se­ries “Rig­ging the Elec­tion.”

The Demo­cratic Party and Clin­ton’s cam­paign de­nounced the tac­tics de­scribed in the footage. Both said the ac­tiv­i­ties de­scribed never took place.

Project Ver­i­tas promised to re­lease ad­di­tional videos ahead of the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

Fo­val is por­trayed in the footage as boast­ing about his con­nec­tions to the party and the Clin­ton cam­paign, and claim­ing to have ar­ranged for peo­ple to in­cite vi­o­lence at Trump ral­lies. Some­times those peo­ple are union work­ers, he said, and some­times they’re men­tally ill and home­less peo­ple.

“I mean, hon­estly it’s not hard to get some of th­ese (ex­ple­tive) to pop off,” Fo­val is shown on the video as say­ing. Con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist James O’Keefe and Project Ver­i­tas often tar­get Demo­cratic groups.

At one point, Fo­val ap­pears to say the hired ag­i­ta­tors should have their med­i­cal and le­gal bills cov­ered.

As with much of the video’s con­tent, it’s im­pos­si­ble to say with cer­tainty what Fo­val meant, be­cause the video is edited in a way so that it’s not clear what led to the com­ment.

Fo­val told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an email that O’Keefe’s as­so­ci­ates had set him up.

“This scheme to cast le­git­i­mate or­ga­niz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties as a sin­is­ter plot is noth­ing but a ruse,” he said. “De­spite our at­tempts to re­di­rect the con­ver­sa­tion and ac­tions to­wards posi- tive, re­sults-ori­ented, le­gal and eth­i­cal po­lit­i­cal or­ga­niz­ing, O’Keefe’s crew of im­pos­tors con­tin­ued to walk down a path of de­cep­tion and ma­nip­u­la­tion.”

O’Keefe and Project Ver­i­tas have a track record of t ar­get­ing Demo­cratic groups, often by hid­ing their iden­ti­ties and us­ing hid­den cam­eras.

A pre­vi­ous O’Keefe sting led to the demise of ACORN, a com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ing group that O’Keefe por­trayed as en­gaged in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity via hid­den cam­era videos.

A 2011 sting of NPR ex­ec­u­tives led to two res­ig­na­tions. Sub­se­quent in­vesti- gations found dis­crep­an­cies be­tween how the un­der­cover j our­nal­ists ap­proached their tar­gets and how they pack­aged what the tar­gets said.

In the lat­ter case, thenNPR ex­ec­u­tive Ron Schiller quoted a Repub­li­can who viewed tea party ac­tivists as “racist”; the edited clip made it ap­pear that Schiller held that opin­ion.

O’Keefe was con­victed in 2010 as part of a scheme to il­le­gally make record­ings at the of­fice of then-Louisiana Sen. Mary Lan­drieu, a Demo­crat.

In this case, Fo­val ap­pears to have been sev­eral steps re­moved from the


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