Right wing undercover operatives aim to discredit voting by mail and shut down voter registration efforts in minority communities. Guard against dirty tricks with these safety tips.
Analyzing a political 'disinformation' campaign
Nov 2017 : Trump donates to Project Veritas
Jun 2019 : Trump claims voter mail fraud
Aug 2019 : Mysterious video production firm (Zeitgeist Pictures) registers website domain
Sept 2020 : Person claiming to be 'Kurt Insley' from Zeitgeist tries to entrap voting rights group looking for details on illegal voting.
Sept 2020 : Activist group identifies 'Kurt Insley' as Project Veritas operative 'Christian Hartsock'
Sept 2020 : LinkedIn profile for Kurt Insley is shut down
"Project Veritas, a right-wing group uses "disguises and hidden cameras" and is known for producing deceptively edited videos about media organizations and left-leaning groups. In a 2018 book on propaganda and disinformation in U.S. politics, three Harvard University scholars refer to Project Veritas as a right-wing disinformation outfit." - Wikipedia
"Project Veritas has been secretly producing undercover stings designed to undermine the integrity of absentee and mail-in ballot counts—an endeavor codenamed Diamond Dog ...The as one source close to the organization put it, is “literally to get Trump reelected.” Project Veritas has worked to infiltrate the groups of volunteers and paid canvassers who collect absentee and mail-in voter applications from low-income, elderly, and minority groups—a perfectly legal practice in most states that conservatives have tried to label as nefarious “ballot harvesting.” According to internal Project Veritas documents, the group’s fundraising total for 2019 leaped up to more than $13.44 million, $4.58 million more than their 2018 returns and the group’s largest reported annual revenue figure to date." - New Republic.
Undercover hit jobs
"Project Veritas operatives use a variety of approaches to conduct stings: casual social interaction at protests, bars, conferences, and fundraising receptions; fundraising pitches wherein the operative is an investor, donor consultant, or donor who just happens to want to fund your project or organization; and embeds within organizations and campaigns as volunteers and interns. These approaches involve building social media profiles for their aliases, a front group or company where the operative allegedly works, and relationships with people associated with the relevant issue or organization being targeted." - Project Veritas Exposed
Project Veritas Exposed
Project Veritas Exposed is a project of The Undercurrent. It is produced by Lauren Windsor and sponsored by American Family Voices. It is a research resource for individual and organizational targets of Project Veritas, lawyers representing the victims, and the media. It assists victims of Project Veritas to identify operatives and collects information helpful to them in litigation and help others from becoming victims. The Project Veritas Exposed website includes details and photos of possible operatives.
"Project Veritas primarily targets politicians, activists, and institutions of the Left, such as ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and unions in general, but teachers' unions in particular. Common themes are voter fraud, immigration, environmentalism, gun reform, attacks on the mainstream media, and since James O'Keefe obtained funding from the Donald Trump Foundation in 2015, increasingly the defense of Donald Trump.
Since O'Keefe created Project Veritas Action, the 501(c)4 political advocacy arm of his organization, he has escalated the tactic of embedding his operatives within political campaigns. This is political espionage, and it poses a major threat to election integrity. This activity and other major operations of relevance are listed below." - Project Veritas Exposed
Project Veritas Exposed recommendations
1. Operatives will concoct elaborate covers and often write pitch emails introducing themselves and requesting a meeting. They might present themselves as consultants, donors, investors, students, etc. ALWAYS VET people you don’t already personally know.
Check their Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/company website.
Do you have mutual connections?
How many friends/followers/connections are there?
Was the account set up in the last six months? If yes – proceed with caution.
Are there lots of personal photos with other people, or is it sparsely populated?
Have you heard of their organization before? Check on LinkedIn.
Is their website recently set up? Are the pages suspiciously bland?
2. Sometimes, the operatives have already developed relationships with people you trust. Ask these people how long they have known this person. Less than six months? Proceed with caution.
3. Did they give you a business card? Do they have a business email? Does the card look suspicious?
4. Always get a copy of a government-issued ID and a resumé with verifiable references. CALL the references. Be suspicious if the person does not have a government ID – often moles use student IDs.
5. Consider getting a signed non-disclosure or non-surveillance agreement.
6. When operatives are not pitching targets via email, they often set up shop at hotel bars for conferences. Why? Because people are drinking and it’s a public space – you usually can’t get into meetings without credentials, BUT that does not mean that operatives can’t get their hands on them.
- They are often attractive women. They often work in teams of two.
- They often pose as progressive political consultants with donors looking to fund YOUR issue. Most progressive organizations need funding. Don’t believe anyone you’ve never heard of offering easy money.
7. They will lure you into hypothetical conversations about illegal, unethical, or politically contentious behavior. You don’t actually have to condone it, but your willingness to entertain the conversation can be deceptively cut to make you and your organization look terrible. Do not engage in personal conversations about contentious subject matter with strangers!
8. Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior that looks like fidgeting with hidden cameras, affecting absurd accents, and wearing outlandish costumes like lederhosen and kilts.
9. ALWAYS document encounters that make you suspicious. Be sure to note physical characteristics of the suspected mole, their names, and all of the details of their cover stories. Preserve all text and e-mail correspondence you may have had with them. Screenshot social media accounts like Facebook or LinkedIn that may have been used in their cover stories.
10. Try to take a picture of the suspect. Contact Undercurrent.TV if you suspect you have encountered a Project Veritas agent.
Dirty tricks in Wisconsin
"Long time Project Veritas operative Christian Hartsock, going by the alias of "Kurt Insley," tried to pitch him on voter fraud schemes this week," said Charlie Ryan, the co-chair of Our Wisconsin Revolution.
"Voter fraud is a perennial favorite issue for Project Veritas, and is a subject that Donald Trump has seized on as he defunds the U.S. Postal Service and sows doubt about mail-in ballots. Veritas was funded by Trump in 2015, and has extensive ties to Trump himself, his family, and his administration. Ryan was able to identify Hartsock's identity using this website." - Lauren Windsor with Project Veritas Exposed.
Hartsock/Insley met with Ryan on September 2 under the pretense of being a filmmaker producing a documentary for Zeitgeist Pictures on the Gillespie v Palmer Wisconsin Supreme Court case, which granted Black people the right to vote. Hartsock's cover included a fake LinkedIn profile and company website. He wanted Ryan to provide him with contemporaneous examples of activists helping people vote illegally (see Ryan's texts to Christian Hartsock/Kurt Insley in Lauren's blog post.
A little diligence goes a long way
Zeitgeist Pictures, the firm that 'Kurt Insley' referenced was started in 2019. It has four web pages and just two videos. "@2019 COPYRIGHT ZEITGEIST PICTURES ALL RIGHTS RESERVED"
WHOIS is a free public service that reports when a web domain was registered and often who owns it. A WHOIS search on Zeitgeist-Pictures.com reveals that it was registered on August 14, 2019. This is interesting as in June 2019, President Trump starts spreading rumors of mail fraud. "Trump’s New Twist on False Voter Fraud Claim" - FactCheck
The LinkedIn profile of 'Kurt Insley' has been closed ...
Be on guard against political hit jobs
"Hartsock may be employing this alias and cover story in other states. The likeliest targets will be in swing states with importance in the presidential race and key Senate races. This narrative will provide ammunition to bolster Trump's claims of voter fraud. Please note that if you have had communication with PV operatives -- regardless of whether or not you said anything wrong -- your willingness to participate in a conversation involving unethical or illegal voting practices can be cut to look like you condone them. ALWAYS be wary of anyone pushing you to talk about illegal or unethical behavior, particularly from folks you barely know. You must ALWAYS push back. Please contact us at Project Veritas Exposed for assistance if you believe you have been infiltrated", advises Lauren Windsor.
- Subscribe to Project Veritas Exposed
- Send tips about Project Veritas activity to Undercurrent TV
- Donate to America Family Voices
Image credit: Propaganda for Change