Apparently the right wingnut Project Veritas and their founder James O’Keefe did their secret video thing using a person or persons embedded in Claire McCaskill’s (D) campaign. Josh Hawley (r) and his friends are all atwitter.
Apparently the Project Veritas videos (no, we’re not linking to a right wingnut site) show that Claire McCaskill is a Democrat.
There’s still a lot details we don’t know.
This afternoon David Kirby, Claire McCaskill’s campaign manager, held a media conference call on the subject.
David Kirby (McCaskill campaign manager): …Thanks everybody for joining today, I recognize how busy you all are, three weeks to go before election day. Uh, but, but it’s important and appreciate your time and attention. Uh, you know, as Attorney General Josh Hawley is supposed to be protecting Missourians from fraud. You have all seen these recent videos released by Project Veritas and known provocateur James O’Keefe. We have reason to believe that fraud was committed against our campaign. And rather than calling it out, for the past forty-eight hours Josh Hawley has been actively embracing and celebrating these fraudulent videos. He’s been sending out fundraising e-mails about them, he’s been tweeting about them, he’s been encouraging his supporters to watch them and pass them around, he’s been encouraging Missouri voters to look at these.
But this call today is not about Project Veritas. This is about Josh Hawley and his failure to act. This cannot be the new normal in Missouri politics. We cannot have people perpetrating fraud, going into campaigns, obtaining videos under false pretenses in violation of law. Josh Hawley’s supposed to be protecting us from fraud as Attorney General and he’s not. I’m having this conversation today because Claire’s busy, she’s on the road. She’s in Cape Girardeau and then on to Jefferson County. She’s talking to Missourians about the rising cost of prescription drugs which she has fought to lower, she’s talking to voters about the importance of protecting health insurance coverage for those with preexisting conditions, she’s talking about the importance of fighting for our veterans and military families, and she’s also talking about the growing opioid epidemic and crisis that’s facing so many families here in Missouri.
Her track record on bipartisan issues is very clear, she’s worked with everyone, Republican, Democrats, Independents. But today I have to have this call. And today our campaign I calling on Attorney General Josh Hawley to look into this matter under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act which we have probable cause to believe was violated through these activities of Project Veritas. And we’re calling on Hawley to recuse himself, because he clearly is biased in this situation, and demanding that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate these matters and investigate these claims and charges.
We have retained counsel in this matter. You’ll be getting more information about that in the coming days. But again, it’s time for Josh Hawley to stand up, it’s time for him to stop hiding when it comes to his job, and it’s time for him to stop promoting this fraud.
With that I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.
Question: …um, Senator McCaskill said previously that, uh, it’s startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding somebody in my campaign. Do you guys have any evidence that Hawley was, uh, specific, Hawley or anyone in his campaign was involved in this Project Veritas, uh, situation?
David Kirby: Well clearly Josh Hawley is perpetrating this, this fraud by promoting it and encouraging it. You don’t have to look any further than look at some of his closest surrogates. Ed Martin, his supporter, who’s show he just went on yesterday, was aware of thee videos, he said this, Martin did, several weeks ago. And he’s featured prominently in the video. Furthermore, Greg Keller, well known Republican operative, paid for by many Republican outfits, who is a clear supporter of the Attorney General’s, also has indicated that he knew about these videos in advance. And he’s encouraging people. So this is really a question for Josh Hawley, what did he know, when did he know it?
Question: …when, when you say fraud has been perpetrated can you explain that? And what evidence do you have that it was specifically fraudulent, what happened?
David Kirby: Well, there’s no question that videos were captured under false pretenses and misrepresentation, which, under Missouri law, is fraud. We have also probable cause to believe that the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act was violated. And I can cite for you the specific cites. The act clearly applies to this situation. In Missouri it is unlawful to use deception, fraud, misrepresentation in connection with solicitation of any funds for any charitable purpose. And that is Missouri Revised Statutes 407.020. Project Veritas is a purported 501(c)(3).
Question: …sort of a two pronged question here. Um, you issued two statements last night. The second of which seemed to back off on this, uh, claim that, uh, that Hawley was involved. Was that purposeful and why did you do that? And secondly, aren’t you by implicating, um, Hawley in this thing asking Hawley to investigate himself?
David Kirby: Well I think I was pretty clear with the earlier question. Josh Hawley has openly been encouraging this, promoting this, fundraising off of this in the last forty-eight hours. Um, and his close friends and surrogates, that include Ed Martin and Greg Keller, have all publicly said that they had advance copies of these videos and also have been promoting it.
Question: But that doesn’t answer my [crosstalk] question.
David Kirby: What was your second question?
Question: Well, that doesn’t answer my question. The, my question was, you issued one statement that seemed to in, implicate Hawley, the you, then within hours you issued a second statement that seemed to back off from that. So it looks like you did your due diligence as a campaign and you decided, I can give you the exact language. Um, your first language was, starting, it is startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding somebody in my campaign. Your second statement aid, it is startling that Josh Hawley would embrace fraudulently embedding somebody in my campaign, implying that you did some due diligence and you decided as a campaign that maybe you couldn’t prove the first point.
David Kirby: No, you know, you know, on advice of legal counsel we’re not going to get into specifics of what we know, um, with respect [inaudible] the facts of these individuals involved. Uh, the reality is that’s a question for Josh, I mean, it’s a question for Josh Hawley. What did he know, when did he know it?
Question: The second part…
David Kirby: Your second question?
Question: …was, are you asking him to investigate himself? If he’s implicated, if he had something to do with it, uh, isn’t that an inherent conflict of interest?
David Kirby: No, I think I was very clear in my statement that we’re calling on the Attorney General to recuse himself, but that the Attorney General’s office has the authority to investigate violations of the Merchandising Practices Act. I know that he loves to talk about that issue when it comes to various topics. Um, and he needs to recuse himself personally, but appoint a special Attorney General as he has the authority and jurisdiction to do in this situation.
Question: …Do you know who it was who was, um, embedded into the campaign and, two, since most of the, a lot of this, uh, video about Planned Parenthood seems to have been filmed in the Columbia field office, um, have any of the staffers who were working out of that office been disciplined for any of the statements they made in the video?
David Kirby: On your first question on who the individual or individuals involved in this incident, on the advice of legal counsel we’re not going to get into specific fact at this moment on those, um, those folks that perpetrated this. Um, suffice to say, as I’ve indicated, you’ll be getting updated information shortly on that. Um, and we will be taking, uh, legal action.
On the second question, could you repeat the second part of the question?
Question: Yeah, I was interested if you’ve take, if any of the staffers have been disciplined for statements because if you look at the statements that say that Planned Parenthood is not supporting Claire, well then, McCaskill, then you look at her campaign finance reports you’ll find that five thousand dollars has been contributed by the Planned Parenthood national political organization. And so they were not only, not only were their statements wrong, but they, you know, maybe out of, a little bit out of, uh, you know, a little bit too loose in what they were saying. So I wonder if there’s been any disciplinary action taken against them.
David Kirby: …yeah, clearly their statements were wrong. And they don’t know what they’re talking about. You know, and they’re, they’re twenty-five, year old kids and they’re having a conversation behind closed doors. And they don’t speak for the campaign. And the facts are very clear. Yes, we have taken money from Planned Parenthood. Yes, that money’s been disclosed by law, by FEC regulation – that we haven’t his from it. So, you know, I’m not going to comment on what a twenty-five year old kid says behind closed doors when they’re not authorized to talk for the campaign.
Question: … When you look at that video it looks as if, uh, James O’Keefe is talking to, uh, some of the staffers. When, to the best of your knowledge, did this happen?
David Kirby: … Um, yeah, so again, we have, we have information on, on when this happened, but it’s, on the advice of counsel I’m not going to get into specific timing. Um, but it’s, it’s fair to say, and you’ll know more once we, um, you know, pursue our legal action. Um, it’s fair to say that this happened, um, a number of times as the video indicates.
Question: …You have mentioned, you know, having retained an attorney and, uh, having advice from counsel. Are you planning any sort of individual legal action against Project Veritas or Mr. O’Keefe, or are you focused solely on a potential investigation by the Attorney General’s office?
David Kirby: …Yeah, great question. Uh, I think that we, we’re pursuing, uh, various options that include, um, you know, demanding the Attorney General and his office do their job and enforce the state law. And there are also other violations that we believe occurred that are outside the purview of the Attorney General’s office that we may pursue based on our legal, um, legal analysis and legal guidance.
Question: This is a very narrow legalistic question, and I understand that you may not answer for this, but Missouri is a one party consent state when it comes to videotaping people. Could that complicate any legal pursuits that you have, or do you feel that the violations of the Missouri, uh, Merchandising Act supersede anything involving taping somebody without their permission.
David Kirby: You know, I would just, you know, Attorney General Josh Hawley has used the Merchandising Practices Act in a very broad way as you all well know, um, over the past year and a half. We are very confident that there is a cause of action here under that statute. And I think the Attorney General would agree if you asked him.
Question: … It obviously appeared that someone embedded in the campaign, either as an intern or a volunteer. Can you just walk us through what your normal process is when someone approaches the campaign when they want to work on it, how much vetting you do, obviously low level staffers I wouldn’t assume that you’re doing full background checks on them? But what is your normal process for when someone approaches the campaign, which obviously was probably exploited in, in this case by the, by Project Veritas.
David Kirby: Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to get into specifics on our office polices and personnel policies. Suffice to say that we do do due diligence and, um, that includes full time staff, interns, and volunteers.
…I just want to reiterate that this is not about Project Veritas. This is about the Attorney General’s failure, his failure to stand up and, you know, call out fraudulent activity. And it’s a failure, really, of, of politics, the dialogue that this campaign is getting into, um, that he’s perpetrated, this gutter politics. We just can’t have this be the new normal. Claire McCaskill’s never fought dirty. She’s not going to do it. She’s out there talking about the issues. We want the Attorney General to talk about the issues and focus on that and not fraudulent videos that are captured…
We will be pursuing legal remedies and you’ll get more information on that shortly.