Project Veritas is up to its old tricks. Even though it’s been denunked, Trump, Tulsi Gabbard, and others are spreading its fearmongering attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar.
What Project Veritas Is Claiming About Ilhan Omar and Illegal Ballot Harvesting
Project Veritas has claimed Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar is engaging in illegal ballot harvesting and a cash-for-ballots scheme in her district in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The group, which has targeted mainly liberal groups with “sting” operations, posted a video late on Sunday showing what it claims is evidence of an illegal effort to harvest absentee ballots.
The group’s founder, James O’Keefe, alleged on Twitter that Omar’s team may have bribed voters in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, which she has represented since 2019.
Liban Mohamed is shown in a Snapchat video commenting on the ballots. He is the brother of Minneapolis city council member Jamal Osman.
Newsweek originally reported that Mohamed was an Omar campaign worker. However, a spokesperson for Omar clarified that he does not work for the congresswoman.
“Just today we got 300 for Jamal Osman,” Mohamed says in the video. “I have 300 ballots in my car right now.”
“Numbers don’t lie. You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots. Look, all these are for Jamal Osman.”
Mohamed can be seen showing white envelopes on his car’s dashboard in a video from July 1. Later in the Project Veritas video, Mohamed says, “Money is the king in this world… and a campaign is driven by money.”
An anonymous person, identified as a former Minneapolis political worker, told Project Veritas that Omar’s campaign deputy district director Ali Isse Gainey was coordinating ballot harvesting from elderly people in Charles Horn Towers, a housing complex in the city, before the Minnesota primary on August 8.
The same person claimed that women and young people were paid for their ballots during the primary. The cash-for-ballots accusation is unsubstantiated at this time.
Ballot harvesting is not illegal in Minnesota, however. A district court in the state denied a Republican motion to stay a temporary injunction against a law that made it illegal for anyone to help more than three people vote.
Jeremy Slevin, Senior Communications Director for Omar, said: “The amount of truth to this story is equal to the amount Donald Trump paid in taxes of ten out of the last fifteen years: zero. And amplifying a coordinated right-wing campaign to delegitimize a free and fair election this fall undermines our democracy.”
Project Veritas has a history of dubious claims and doctored videos. O’Keefe first came to prominence in 2009 with videos about ACORN, a community group that lost federal funding and had to shut down as a result.
However, O’Keefe had to pay $100,000 to a former ACORN employee who didn’t consent to be filmed and claimed he called the police after a disguised O’Keefe asked how he could make underage prostitution look like a legitimate business.
Since 2009, O’Keefe and Project Veritas have carried out several “sting” operations against liberal and Democratic groups. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for unlawfully entering federal property in 2010 relating to an operation involving then-Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.
There was instant skepticism of Project Veritas’ latest claim. CNN analyst Jessica Huseman, who has covered the organization, pointed to the timing of the video release.
“Wow you’re telling me that project veritas just happened to release a project right after the nyt release a bombshell huh what are the odds,” Huseman tweeted on Monday.
O’Keefe’s claims also come just two weeks after liberal groups in Wisconsin asked the state’s attorney general to investigate Project Veritas. They say members of the group mislead them by using false identities and tried to get them to agree “to use illegal methods.”
Omar casually dismissed the claims on Monday. She responded to one of President Donald Trump’s tweets about the accusations with a gif mocking the amount he allegedly paid in tax in 2016 and 2017.
Correction 9/28/20, 11:00 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from a spokesperson for Ilhan Omar denying that Liban Mohamed works or worked for the representative.
This voter fraud insider touted by Trump runs a non-existent organization
Project Veritas, the right-wing undercover operation headed up by James O’Keefe, released a 16-minute long video Monday depicting alleged “ballot harvesting” in Minnesota.
The video put out by the huckster, in true O’Keefe fashion, both decontextualizes what happened and fails to verify its sources.
Regardless, it’s been boosted already by President Donald Trump.
O’Keefe alleges that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) employed individuals to “harvest ballots” in exchange for cash in her 2020 primary. The video shows Snapchat footage from a man named Liban Mohamed, who is not an Omar campaign employee, gloating about having picked up over 300 ballots in one day. In it, he is not picking up ballots for Omar. And ballot harvesting, the phrase for collecting and delivering ballots for people who voted but cannot deliver them, like the elderly, is not illegal in Minnesota.
Regardless, the video tries to sow panic by interviewing an expert on the matter. Only that source is hilariously uncredentialed. Project Veritas’ “insider,” who explains the “scam,” has quite the questionable past as a faux spokesperson for the Somali community in Minnesota.
Project Veritas says that Omar Jamal, their key whistleblower “works with the Ramsey County Sheriff Department and is the chairman of the Somali Watchdog Group.”
Records obtained by the Daily Dot indicate that the “Somali Watchdog Group,” the group which Jamal allegedly heads, only just registered its website in late August 2020.
The timeframe appears to be after Project Veritas began producing the video, which shows footage from July.
The Daily Dot was also unable to identify any other members or affiliates of the group headed up by Jamal.
The “News” section of the site appears to be an RSS feed of CNN.
Project Veritas Communications Director Neil McCabe was curt when speaking with the Daily Dot and failed to answer straightforward questions about Jamal’s organization.
Asked if Project Veritas believes their whistleblower’s organization is a real group and if Veritas fact-checked the authenticity of the “Somali Watchdog Group,” McCabe stated, “I believe that he identifies as the chairman of that group.”
McCabe was then asked again two more times by the Daily Dot if Veritas looked into the authenticity of the group, only for McCabe to repeat himself.
The Ramsey County Sheriff Department’s phone line operator could not confirm to the Daily Dot if Jamal is or was an employee. Multiple requests for such information to numerous department representatives went unreturned.
When the Daily Dot asked Veritas’ spokesperson if they ever confirmed he worked for the department, McCabe stated, “He represented to us that he was—had a relationship with the Ramsey County Sheriff Department.”
Asked with a rephrased question about fact-checking the claims made by sources, McCabe yet again repeated his prior answer.
Jamal, the central Veritas “insider,” who is one of the only individuals without his face blurred in the video, has a questionable past.
In 2003, he was arrested on immigration fraud charges. It’s an ironic twist, as far-right operatives have long tried to paint Omar as guilty of her own immigration fraud.
“The government alleges Omar Jamal lied five years ago in immigration proceedings in Memphis, Tenn. The government says Jamal lied about where else he had lived, and used a fake passport to enter the United States,” Minnesota Public Radio reported at the time.
“Omar Jamal is the latest brave Project Veritas Insider to come forward and expose a voter fraud scheme in Minnesota that will shock you,” said O’Keefe in a press release.
McCabe, when asked about Jamal’s criminal past, didn’t speak for 15 seconds before responding, “My past, your past… I’m not worried about your past, are you worried about my past?”
“I mean what type of question is that?” McCabe asked this reporter.
Asked again about the “insider’s” credibility, McCabe played down Jamal’s charges in 2003. “I would say nothing that happened in the year in 2003, has any bearing over what he told us in 2020,” he told the Daily Dot.
While Project Veritas was interviewing Jamal, the insider also just so happened to tout Veritas’ motto of “do something,” although that’s probably just a coincidence by their whistleblower and not something he may have been reading off of a script.