James O'Keefe Looks For Voter Fraud In Colorado, Finds Nothing. Again.
Ever since we heard the news that James O'Keefe had launched a voter fraud scavenger hunt in Colorado, we've been eagerly waiting, as we're sure you have, Wonketteers, for his latest video to drop. Now that we've had a chance to see the highlight reel of O'Keefe's Rocky Mountain Mustache Caper, purporting to show Democratic Sen. Mark Udall's "advocates" standing by while an army of fraudulent voters gear up to steal the election, we have to say we're a little disappointed.
We are sure our dear readers will be shocked to learn that the actual product of O'Keefe's investigation, despite being edited to O'Keefe's maximum advantage, lacks any evidence of voter fraud and instead appears to show O'Keefe talking about all the crimes he can't wait to commit, along with a couple of specific instances of stupidity by people who have no power over the electoral process and who consistently show an alarming lack of motivation to engage in fraud themselves.
Before heading into the wilds of Boulder, O'Keefe sits for a Very Serious Interview with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a frustrated voter suppressionist who worried at a recent voter suppression luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation that the postal service is quite possibly "the greatest vehicle for disenfranchisement in the country."
Sensing the paranoid wing nut who runs Colorado's elections is a kindred spirit, O'Keefe reveals that he too is haunted by the dangers faced by little ballots out there, all alone, after being mailed to homes that don't want them.
[J.O.] What about areas where people are not likely to vote as much -- say, a part of Colorado where people just aren't as active -- but they're still getting ballots, and they throw these ballots in the trash, and the trash is filled with ballots. Couldn't someone to go up the trash, take out the ballot, commit some fraud, and mail that ballot in?
[S.G.] That could absolutely happen.
Won't somebody please think of the ballots? Determined to save them from being kidnapped from under the coffee grounds in apathetic voters' garbage cans, James gets an old-man makeover to thwart those who might recognize him from his previous crusades for justice and sets out to gotcha himself up some "evidence."
Having failed in their attempts to get staff at Colorado Democratic field offices and campaign events to endorse plans to Fraud The Vote, O'Keefe's crew apparently started moving down the ladder of political relevance until arriving at the office of Work for Progress, a hiring firm that fills low-level positions for environmental campaigns (you know, those clipboard people you avoid outside Whole Foods).
James, posing as liberal civics professor "John Miller" with the help of his dashing mustache, insinuates he is planning to retrieve discarded ballots from the trash. Meredith Hicks, a woman he calls a "director" of the organization, appears to nod along with this narrative, though from her replies, it's not clear whether she thinks he's talking about filling out all the ballots out himself or distributing them to other voters who don't have them yet. He later says Hicks is "approving my proposition to falsify ballots." We don't actually know if that's the case because O'Keefe doesn't show that part on video. And no, he won't release the raw unedited footage because, according to a statement emailed to Wonkette by Interim Communication Director Stephen Gordon:
Project Veritas Action does not release raw or unedited tapes or reporters’ notes of investigations. This policy ensures compliance with federal and state laws while providing the best privacy protection for individuals recorded. The reporting process and methods of Project Veritas Action are proven successful and effective and are the protected intellectual property and trade secrets of Project Veritas Action.
Too bad "federal and state laws" prevent Project Veritas from actually showing the footage that would prove their claims. Oh well!
O'Keefe calls Work for Progress "a non-profit working hard to re-elect Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall." Hey, that sounds almost like they represent the actual Colorado Democrats! In a five-second blink of the video, while Hicks isn't looking, O'Keefe flashes a glossy door hanger for Sen. Udall in front of the hidden camera. This is supposed to prove that the organization is illegally coordinating with Udall's campaign because O'Keefe "found" (or quite possibly "brought with him") the incriminating evidence of Udall campaign material. (Since O'Keefe got busted by another non-profit for trying to plant Udall campaign materials in their space as "evidence" of improper coordination with the campaign, we are somewhat doubtful.)
However, even if the Udall-supporting material was in the office before O'Keefe arrived, we're not sure how this is supposed to prove any sort of nefarious or illegal activity. Work for Progress isn't trying to hide the fact that it is indeed working to re-elect Udall. It's right there on the website too, which O'Keefe also shows as further evidence of ... something. None of this, however, proves that Work for Progress is illegally coordinating with Udall's campaign, though O'Keefe sure wants us to think that's what it means!
The Veritas gang goes down yet another notch on the totem pole with Christen Topping, a street canvasser for Greenpeace. O'Keefe's voiceover sneers that "Greenpeace says it's apolitical, but when we talked to one of their paid staffers, she openly endorsed Udall." It might be a little more damning if she had said that Greenpeace was pro-Udall, rather than clearly prefacing her answer to their question with "in my personal opinion."
Granted, Ms. Topping's personal opinion responses to O'Keefe's questioning are pretty dumb. The crack Veritas team has her recommending the best places in Aurora to harvest discarded ballots from the trash: in "Ghetto Aurora," she informs them, there will probably be tons of unwanted ballots, since the nonwhite people who live there "don't care" about voting.
Ms. Topping does not admit to committing voter fraud by cruising Ghetto Aurora to find ballots herself, but her personal opinion proves the entire Greenpeace organization endorses this kind of blatant voter fraud, which is why, in a statement to Wonkette, spokesperson Molly Dorozenski said:
The statement made by the Greenpeace employee in James O'Keefe III's video did not reflect the values of Greenpeace. She was speaking from a personal perspective, and her views do not represent the views of the organization. Her contract with Greenpeace has since been terminated.
In the video, O'Keefe concedes that his team never went to Aurora to rescue the poor orphaned ballots. So he doesn't know if they're piling up on 6th and Belmar Circle, waiting for someone to pick them up and do some frauding. It sure would make their video extra alarming if they'd actually been able to find any ballots in the trash to show how easy it would be to hijack the election on the advice of one addled chick they found on the street.
Then there's O'Keefe's attempt to prove that Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar is also part of the big voter fraud conspiracy. O'Keefe sends some of his crew to a small campaign staff event in a park, where the camera captures Salazar's campaign manager, Nicole Hanlen, answering his undercover team's questions about how their imaginary friends can vote if they've just moved to Colorado from Oregon. Hanlen, seemingly unaware of the All-you-Can-Fraud Ballot Buffet on the north side of Aurora, directs them to a public office where voters can register and informs the Veritasian that these new Coloradans will be required to produce documentation of residency, such as a photo ID and current utility bills, in order to qualify.
The O'Keefe spy mentions that her friends are "excited to vote again," implying that these friends of hers have already cast their ballots in Oregon and can't wait to vote again in Colorado, which will be illegal. O'Keefe's team might have managed to catch Salazar's campaign manager in the act of encouraging this kind of fraud, if she hadn't repeatedly pointed out that they'll have to ask at the county office whether they'll be able to vote. Another "gotcha" moment on camera that proves absolutely nothing.
Rep. Salazar's office sent us this message expressing his gratitude to James O'Keefe for revealing the un-American fraud-enabler running his campaign.
Right wing operatives who seemed hell bent on committing voter fraud tried to rope my campaign manager Nicole into their scheme, and failed. Nicole did nothing wrong and simply referred them to the Adams County Clerk and Recorder's office so they could have their questions answered. I believe this stunt actually proves that our new elections law is airtight, as they never once showed anyone actually committing voter fraud in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the only thing that this video showed was Mr. O'Keefe's multiple attempts to commit voter fraud himself, and I hope he's held accountable for this misguided and ridiculous stunt.
We're not sure that James actually committed any crimes here (though that mustache is probably a misdemeanor offense in some jurisdictions), but he and his friends are standing closer to illegality than anyone else who appears in this video. Even Greenpeace Girl, who agrees with O'Keefe's team that their plan to go trash-balloting is "awesome," does not ask to come along or invite them over to use the vote-frauding workbench in her garage.
So after all of that undercover investigation, what have we learned? That James O'Keefe still really enjoys playing dress-up and talking about committing crimes on camera. As for whether Colorado is a hotbed of coordinated voter fraud, not so much.
You can watch O'Keefe's full but edited video here.
You can follow Beth on Twitter. She is safely in Washington, DC, where they don't get a governor or any senators, so nobody ever tries to steal her elections.