Conservative video-maker James O'Keefe's — best known for selectively editing undercover footage to get people fired — claimed another victim on Monday, after his Project Veritas group released the first in what he says will be a series of undercover videos revealing corruption within Hillary Clinton's campaign.
In several surreptitiously recorded video conversations, Scott Foval, the former national field director at Americans United for Change, admits to "bird dogging" — planting agitators at — Donald Trump's rallies to draw negative media attention.
Foval describes colluding with Bob Creamer, co-founder of consulting group Democracy Partners, to "put people in the line, at the front . . . to get in front at the rally, so that when Trump comes down the rope line, they’re the ones asking him the question in front of the reporter, because they’re pre-placed there."
"To funnel that kind of operation, you have to start back with people two weeks ahead of time and train them how to ask questions," Foval explains. "You have to train them to bird dog."
Among Foval's trainees, he says, are "mentally ill people, that we pay to do shit."
"Over the last 20 years, I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel, and a shower. And I put them in a program," he brags. "Like, I’ve done that."
Americans United for Change subsequently cut ties with Foval, according to a statement from the group's head, Brad Woodhouse.
O'Keefe and Project Veritas have been criticized in the past, however, for strategically editing footage to make false accusations.
In 2013, O'Keefe settled a suit for $100,000 after editing a recording with an ACORN employee who subsequently lost his job. Similarly, after O'Keefe and an associate posed as donors affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in a sting operation at NPR, The Blaze examined the edited video against the raw footage and found manipulative editing.
And contrary to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's hunch, political trickery (real or alleged) isn't exclusive to either party.
In August, Politico reported that Steven Wessel, a convicted con man unaffiliated with Donald Trump's campaign, "catfished" the Republican presidential nominee's opponents to gather information "about the operatives and their intentions regarding Trump."
Per the report:
Assuming a variety of fake online identities, including that of a female solicitor in England, Wessel gushed in emails, phone calls and Twitter messages about (made-up) extramarital affairs with the likes of the late Lee Atwater, showered marks with gift cards to the swanky Mandarin Oriental, and invited them to go pheasant-hunting in Scotland — all in an apparent attempt to glean more about the operatives and their intentions regarding Trump.
Among Wessel's targets: Republicans Rick Wilson and Cheri Jacobus, and libertarian consultant Liz Mair. According to the report, "The targets of the scheme do not believe that Wessel, described by his own lawyer as mentally ill, was acting alone."
"The questions were of such a degree of granularity and specificity and political acumen that unless [Wessel] had political experience it would be hard for him to come up with them," said Wilson, head of a pro-Sen. Marco Rubio super PAC during the primaries.
Wilson "suggested the possible involvement" of the defunct Make America Great Again PAC.
Watch the Project Veritas video below:
The second installment of undercover videos is scheduled to drop Tuesday.