A conservative activist with Project Veritas posed as an intern with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign and had access to voter information, according to a stack of documents McCaskill’s lawyer delivered to Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office Friday.
Project Veritas, a conservative activist group run by James O’Keefe, released surreptitiously-recorded videos of McCaskill and her campaign this week as part of series of undercover videos meant to damage Democratic candidates ahead of next month’s mid-term election. McCaskill’s re-election fight with Hawley could decide control of the U.S. Senate.
An employee of Project Veritas approached McCaskill’s campaign in May and expressed an interest in volunteering and interning on the campaign, according to an affidavit from McCaskill’s Columbia field director Luke Tonant.
As an intern, the Project Veritas employee, who Tonant knew as “Adam Thomson,” had access to the campaign’s voter information database for a total of 20 hours between May and July, according to the affidavit.
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The Project Veritas employee continued to volunteer for the campaign after resigning his internship in July and even attended McCaskill’s primary election night party, where he obtained the video of McCaskill speaking about her support for gun control measures.
The affidavit is part of a 115-page complaint McCaskill’s attorney filed with Hawley’s office Thursday in an effort to pressure the Republican attorney general and McCaskill’s opponent to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Project Veritas violated Missouri law in the course of obtaining the videos.
Chuck Hatfield, McCaskill’s attorney, contended that as a nonprofit Project Veritas is subject to the Missouri law that bars the use of fraud or deception in solicitation of charitable funds. Hatfield argued that the group’s undercover videos are directly tied to its fundraising efforts.
Hatfield said that the person posing as an intern “deceitfully omitted that they were affiliated with Project Veritas. Neither Ms. McCaskill nor the staffers interviewed would have consented to any conversations at all had they known the individuals were affiliated with convicted criminal, James O’Keefe.”
Hawley has heavily promoted the videos and dismissed the McCaskill campaign’s call for an investigation.
Marco Bruno, a spokesman for Project Veritas Action Fund, contended in a statement that the videos were an act of journalism.
“It looks like a sitting United States Senator is trying to criminalize investigative journalism. All of our investigations are done legally. Not only do we operate according to letter of the law but also by the spirit and intent of the law,” Bruno said.
Hatfield strongly disputed that the videos were a journalistic endeavor in his filing and also said that courts “recognize that trespassing under false pretenses is actionable even when the perpetrator claims to be engaged in ‘journalism.’”