Woman Offering Dubious Claims About Moore Appears Linked To James O’Keefe

A woman who approached the Washington Post with unsubstantiated and dubious allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore appears to be connected to conservative activist James O’Keefe, the Washington Post reported Monday evening.

According to the Washington Post, the woman identified herself to a reporter as Jaime Phillips and claimed she met Moore when she was 15 years old. Phillips claimed that she and Moore had a sexual relationship, that she became pregnant as a result and that Moore convinced her to get an abortion and drove her to Mississippi to obtain one.

Washington Post reporters saw Phillips entering the New York offices of O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, on Monday, according to the report.

Phillips asked Washington Post reporter Beth Reinhard, who co-wrote the first report on Moore’s alleged misconduct, to meet her in person and alone, and asked Reinhard to guarantee that Moore would lose his Senate race if she aired her claims.

According to the report, Reinhard told Phillips that she could not “guarantee what will happen as a result of another story” and informed her of the Washington Post’s “fact-checking process.”

Phillips last week suggested meeting with another Washington Post reporter who co-wrote the same report as Reinhard, Stephanie McCrummen. Phillips told Reinhard, “I’d rather go to another paper than talk to you again.”

Reinhard and McCrummen, along with Washington Post researcher Alice Crites, co-bylined a report on Leigh Corfman’s allegation that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old and he was in his early 30s.

Upon further examination, Phillips’ account was less than watertight, according to the report published Monday. Phillips gave Reinhard a cell phone number with an Alabama area code, but claimed she had only lived in the state briefly as a teenager. The company at which Phillips claimed she worked told Reinhard that it had no employee with that name.

The Post also found a GoFundMe fundraising campaign started by somebody with the same name as Phillips, who was soliciting donations in May to move to New York for “a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt (sic) of the liberal MSM” (mainstream media).

Phillips later met with McCrummen, who was accompanied by Washington Post videographers, and claimed she wanted Moore “to be completely taken out of the race.”

McCrummen asked Phillips to “explain” the GoFundMe campaign, and told her she was being “recorded and video recorded.”

“Um, yeah, I was looking to take a job last summer in New York, but it fell through,” Phillips replied. “Yeah, it was going to be with the Daily Caller, but it ended up falling through, so I wasn’t able to do it.”

According to the Washington Post, Phillips claimed that she was interviewed by a Daily Caller employee named Kathy Johnson; the Daily Caller’s executive editor told the Washington Post that the outlet has no employee with that name.

Project Veritas has a history of misleadingly editing footage to create false accusations about Democratic groups. In 2010, O’Keefe pleaded guilty to breaking into former Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) office. In 2013, he paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by employees of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), after his group released a video leading to ACORN’s dissolution.

In March 2016, O’Keefe — whose modus operandi is focused on such attempted “stings” — blew his own cover by forgetting to hang up the phone while apparently demonstrating how to conduct such an operation.

Regardless of his success, O’Keefe has viewers in the highest offices; President Donald Trump in June posted two videos from O’Keefe’s “American Pravda” series.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., also shared the videos on his Twitter, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders touted them from the briefing room podium, albeit with a caveat: “Whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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