Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, has called for her Senate opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, to launch an investigation into Project Veritas after her campaign was targeted this week in hidden-camera videos.
McCaskill campaign manager David Kirby called for Mr. Hawley to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the footage, which shows young campaign staffers discussing how the Democrat’s support for Planned Parenthood and gun control is kept quiet.
“We have reason to believe that fraud has been committed against our campaign,” Mr. Kirby told reporters, saying the videos were captured “under false pretenses and misrepresentations.”
Mr. Hawley, her Republican rival, swung back Wednesday by advising the McCaskill campaign either to come forward with evidence of a crime or drop the matter.
“Senator, accusing people of crimes is a serious thing. If you have evidence of a crime, please come forward with it immediately. Otherwise, please stop politicizing the legal process for your reelection,” he tweeted.
Ms. McCaskill also accused Mr. Hawley of working with Project Veritas, telling KOLR10 that it was “startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding somebody in my campaign,” which the Republican dismissed as “absurd.”
Project Veritas President James O’Keefe also denied her claim, saying he had never met the attorney general.
“We don’t talk to any candidates at Project Veritas Action — we only investigate candidates,” Mr. O’Keefe said in a follow-up video. “This is an absolutely false statement. Period. And it’s outrageous she would make a factually untrue statement like this with no evidence on television.”
Mr. O’Keefe’s right-wing undercover investigative group released two videos this week showing McCaskill campaign staffers discussing how Planned Parenthood and gun-control groups keep their support for her hush-hush to allow her to appear more centrist than she really is.
In Wednesday’s video, staffers told the Project Veritas investigator that Planned Parenthood donates to outside groups that funnel support to Ms. McCaskill, instead of supporting her directly.
“They go through other means to get us that money,” said a man identified as campaign staffer Nicholas Starost on hidden camera. “They specifically will not donate to us.”
He added, “It’s [expletive deleted] beautiful. It’s great when it works for us and not against us, let’s be honest.”
A woman identified as campaign staffer Darcy Becker explained on hidden camera that “it’s not that they don’t support Claire, it’s because they know it’s a tough state to win for a Democrat.”
“Because even some moderate Democrats are pro-life, and even those Republicans that are going to vote for Claire because they’re pretty moderate, she could lose them if Planned Parenthood donated money to her,” she said.
In Monday’s video, McCaskill deputy field director Rob Miller said has “worked out stuff with Moms Demand Action to make sure she can support their goals without supporting the organization openly.”
“And you know, Moms Demand Action does the exact same thing. Like a lot of our volunteers are actually from there,” Mr. Miller said on the footage. “She’s really good about strategy.”
Mr. Kirby dismissed the exchanges as “some 25-year-olds who didn’t know what they’re talking about.” The campaign has not yet said whether the staffers on the video were paid or volunteer.
Ms. McCaskill’s campaign manager also said that Planned Parenthood has donated at least $5,000 to the campaign, and that the donation is listed on public disclosures, according to KMBC-9.
In a statement after the gun-control video, Ms. McCaskill said, “I’ve made no secret that I think we can support the Second Amendment, and universal background checks, and banning bump stocks.”
“My gun record is out in the open for everyone to see,” she said. “What’s really telling about this is how far they’re willing to go to fraudulently embed somebody in my campaign. That’s startling. I’ve never seen that in a U.S. Senate campaign before in the state of Missouri.”
Ms. McCaskill is seen as the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat as she seeks re-election in a state Mr. Trump won in 2016 by 19 points. The candidates are slated to debate Thursday with the critical Senate contest locked in a statistical tie.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire reports.
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