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A Right-Wing Sting Operative Went Undercover in Beto O’Rourke’s Campaign

Esquire logo Esquire 11/3/2018 Gabrielle Bruney
a man and a woman standing in a room: And the worst thing they caught his campaign staffers doing? Donating food to the needy. © Chris Covatta - Getty Images And the worst thing they caught his campaign staffers doing? Donating food to the needy.

Right-wing master of disguise James O’Keefe sent one of his would-be 007s into Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign. The operative posed as an O'Rourke supporter and secretly filmed her interactions with his staff. For all this effort, the damning scoop O'Keefe found was that staffers spent around $300 in campaign funds to buy food and supplies for a charity working with asylum seekers sheltering in El Paso churches. Truly nefarious stuff indeed:

On Thursday, O'Keefe's organization, Project Veritas, posted a 24-minute long video, mostly compiled of footage taken surreptitiously within O'Rourke's campaign. In it, staffers discuss buying food and supplies for a charity that works with asylum seekers. It's legal for people to cross our border and apply for asylum. It's also legal for campaigns to give to charity. According to Huffpost, the O'Rourke team offered a simple explanation for the footage Project Veritas released:

“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 named Annunciation House that helps mothers and children in the community,” O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said. “The value was under $300 and it will be appropriately reported to the FEC.”

Ted Cruz has jumped all over this story of charitable giving. He's using it as an opportunity to tie O'Rourke's campaign to the migrant caravan that President Trump has tried, in typically racist fashion, to make a focus of the midterm elections. In fact, O'Rourke's staffers provided support only to asylum seekers who are already in the Texas, while the caravan Trump incessantly invokes is still months away from reaching our border.

O'Keefe is a veteran dirty trickster who made his name when another one of his selectively-edited videos forced the shuttering of ACORN, a nationwide community organizing group that worked on behalf of the poor. Since then, his stings have had more misses than hits. O'Keefe last made major headlines in 2017, when he was caught trying to dupe The Washington Post into publishing the account of a fake Roy Moore accuser.

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