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  • Writer's pictureLauren Windsor

OH & MI Democratic Legislators Targeted in Teachers Union Stings

In the last few months, James O'Keefe and Project Veritas launched a blitzkrieg of stings against teachers unions in New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Ohio. Union officials told me there may have been operations in Arizona, California, and Florida as well. The release of a video from Ohio last week was accompanied by e-mails and calls requesting statements to the offices of at least two Democratic state legislators there, according to a source with knowledge of the correspondence, and at least three Democratic federal legislators, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, and Reps. Marcia Fudge and Tim Ryan, according to O'Keefe and Veritas via Twitter.

James O'Keefe, Twitter, accessed 5/29/18.

Project Veritas' sting against AFT Michigan, which took place in September of 2017, had until May 8 been caught up in the courts, as the union had won a temporary injunction barring PV from publication. In its press release on the Ohio video, Veritas pointed out that it had contacted AFT-endorsed Gretchen Whitmer, the leading contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Michigan.

Teachers unions, which are stalwart supporters of Democrats, are perennial targets of Project Veritas, but the outfit appears to be targeting them in the midterms in an effort to harm both the unions and Democratic candidates. Sen. Brown has been a top Senate target this year, and is running against Trump-endorsed Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH 16). Rep. Ryan (D-OH 13) is a GOP target in the House for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Gretchen Whitmer is the front-runner in a gubernatorial race many are expecting to swing to Democrats.

O'Keefe told Politico recently that "his team is placing an emphasis this year on the midterm elections, and [that] numerous undercover operatives are tasked with penetrating campaigns." In 2015, Project Veritas received $20k from Donald Trump's foundation in two separate donations. In 2016, O'Keefe's c4 sister organization, Project Veritas Action, embedded operatives within the Senate campaigns of Russ Feingold, Deborah Ross, and Ted Strickland, and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in multiple states.

We advise all campaigns to vet their volunteers, interns, staffers, and donors in anticipation of a surge of campaign infiltration. But also to prepare their candidates with responses to bird-dogging by O'Keefe's operatives. (Bird-dogging is staking out a politician, following them, and trying to pin down answers to specific questions.) While Project Veritas has not bird-dogged legislators for comment in this series yet, the organization has done so with targets in the past. We recommend that legislators respond to all Veritas press requests, whether in-person or digital, with the following, "I do not give interviews to known agents of Donald Trump."

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