Surprise, Surprise: Reports Debunk Viral Project Veritas Video About Harvesting Ballots

Written by on October 7, 2020

A viral video produced by the fraudulent far-right propaganda outlet Venture Veritas and broadly promoted by main Republican figures, which claimed to indicate Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s reelection marketing campaign illegally accumulating ballots in Minnesota, continues to be discredited.

A number of media stories for the reason that video was printed on Sept. 27 have detailed methods through which Venture Veritas used untrustworthy sources and deceptively edited clips to smear Omar, who’s the frequent goal of right-wing assaults.

The Venture Veritas video, produced by the group’s head huckster James O’Keefe, was promoted by President Donald Trump on Twitter and purports to indicate that Omar dedicated election fraud by hiring folks to “harvest ballots” in change for cash.

However on Monday, the Minneapolis-based Fox affiliate KMSP printed an explosive unique interview with a Minneapolis man named Liban Osman, a important topic of the video, who recounted how a person working with Venture Veritas had supplied him $10,000 to assert that he was harvesting ballots for Omar. Osman instructed KMSP he rejected the supply.

The Venture Veritas video consists of footage that Osman himself posted to Snapchat, displaying off ballots he’d collected. However Osman was not accumulating ballots for Omar, however for an area metropolis council candidate in Minneapolis.

This kind of so-called “poll harvesting” — accumulating mail-in ballots from voters who’re sick, aged or in any other case unable to get their votes within the mail — could not have even been unlawful. In Minnesota, campaigns are sometimes allowed to gather solely three ballots at a time, however a district courtroom ruling earlier this yr permitted the gathering of extra ballots over a five-week interval from July 28 to Sept. 4.

Whereas Venture Veritas claims Osman posted the Snapchat movies in early July, he instructed KMSP the movies have been posted in late July.

“So that you’re saying a coordinated misinformation marketing campaign by a identified fraud was truly…a fraud?!” Rep. Omar tweeted Tuesday in response to the KMSP report. Omar’s marketing campaign has repeatedly denied committing any kind of election fraud.

“That is on model for Trump and his stooges, fraudsters who love concocting determined racist conspiracies and chaos in an effort to distract the general public from their failures,” Omar wrote.

The KMSP report was not the primary to debunk Venture Veritas’ claims about Omar.

Final week, the Day by day Dot printed a report that discredited Venture Veritas’ key “supply” from the Somali neighborhood in Minneapolis. Within the video, Omar Jamal identifies himself because the chair of the “Somali Watchdog Group” and says he “works with the Ramsey County Sheriff Division in Minnesota.” He repeatedly accuses Osman and Omar’s marketing campaign of a coordinated, widespread election fraud marketing campaign.

However a number of damning revelations within the Day by day Dot report name into query Jamal’s credibility. The “Somali Watchdog Group” he chairs? Jamal solely registered its web site in late August, seemingly after Venture Veritas started producing its video about supposedly unlawful poll harvesting. The group’s bare-bones web site doesn’t point out another members or associates.

The Day by day Dot reached out to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Workplace to verify whether or not Jamal is or has ever been employed by the workplace, however by no means acquired a response, based on the outlet.

A spokesman for Venture Veritas couldn’t affirm the authenticity of the Somali Watchdog Group or whether or not Jamal truly ever labored with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Workplace.

“He represented to us that he was — had a relationship with the Ramsey County Sheriff Division,” the spokesman instructed the Day by day Dot.

On his LinkedIn web page, Jamal states he’s a “Somali Everlasting Consultant” on the United Nations and a former pupil of Tufts College’s Fletcher College of worldwide affairs.

However the Day by day Dot discovered that neither of those claims is true.

“Fuck you,” Jamal instructed the publication when requested concerning the inconsistencies. “I’m going to report you … I need to fuck your mom, that’s the college I went to!”

Furthermore, based on a report within the Sahan Journal, Jamal just lately appeared on Somali American TV and walked again claims made within the Venture Veritas video that he witnessed money being exchanged for votes for Omar.

Jamal is the person Osman claims instructed him that Venture Veritas would give him $10,000 to say he was accumulating ballots for Omar.

Reached for remark by HuffPost, a Venture Veritas spokesman despatched a hyperlink to a YouTube video through which O’Keefe denies that the group supplied bribes.

The Venture Veritas video additionally consists of extra allegations that Democratic operatives tied to Omar’s marketing campaign paid folks handy over clean mail-in ballots which the marketing campaign then crammed out. The allegations, nonetheless, are made by unidentified folks whose faces are by no means proven on digicam.

Venture Veritas is a “right-wing disinformation outfit,” based on researchers at Harvard College, with an extended historical past of conducting elaborate undercover “sting” operations it paperwork in deceptively edited movies to smear liberals.

James O'Keefe, the well-funded far-right propagandist behind Project Veritas, infamous for creating deceptively edited videos

James O’Keefe, the well-funded far-right propagandist behind Venture Veritas, notorious for creating deceptively edited movies, is cozy with main GOP figures together with the president. Right here, he’s talking on the principle stage on the 2019 Conservative Political Motion Convention.

This yr, Venture Veritas has been targeted on delegitimizing mail-in voting, a objective it shares with the White Home. One supply near Venture Veritas even instructed The New Republic that the group’s sole goal this yr is “actually to get Trump reelected.”

It’s unsurprising then that many distinguished figures within the MAGAverse, together with the president himself, promoted the newest Venture Veritas video.

“What about Omar that she will get caught harvesting,” Trump instructed a crowd of supporters at a rally in Minnesota shortly after he contracted the coronavirus. “What the hell is happening?”

The president and his son Donald Trump Jr. each promoted the video to their thousands and thousands of followers on Twitter.

A damning report from the Stanford Web Observatory uncovered proof that Venture Veritas coordinated the discharge of its newest video with the Republican Social gathering in an try to attract consideration away from a main New York Occasions investigation on Trump’s tax dodging. 

Venture Veritas — which has acquired thousands and thousands of {dollars} in funding from organizations related to billionaire conservative megadonors, together with the Koch Brothers — has loved shut ties with the GOP. Earlier this yr, O’Keefe was a featured speaker on the principle stage on the Conservative Political Motion Convention, the premier annual gathering of the American proper. 

The Minneapolis Police Division has additionally helped lend credibility to O’Keefe’s newest sham investigation, tweeting a day after its launch that the allegations have been “being evaluated” by police.

“The MPD is conscious of the allegations of vote harvesting,” the division tweeted Sept. 28. “We’re within the means of trying into the validity of these statements. No additional info is accessible right now on this.”

However the MPD hasn’t but launched an replace on its findings, regardless of the mounting proof towards O’Keefe’s claims. A spokesperson for the MPD didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s request for remark.

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