James O’Keefe Says $50K Donation Funded Voter Fraud Stunt

January 12, 2012 8:46 a.m.

An “extremely generous donor” gave $50,000 to James O’Keefe‘s Project Veritas to fund their voter fraud stunt in New Hampshire on Tuesday, the conservative activist said in a email to supporters.

“Our Voter Fraud investigation is being funded with a gift of $50,000 from an extremely generous donor — but that covers the cost of just ONE national project,” O’Keefe wrote in a fundraising email.Project Veritas received non-profit status from the IRS and said in an application that it wanted to raise $1.65 million over a three year period. A $50,000 donation will likely show up on the organization’s yearly 990 forms, but that information wouldn’t be available until this spring or the spring of 2013, depending upon if the donation was made in 2011 or 2012.

O’Keefe wrote in the email that his team had the “ability to cast more than a dozen votes” in what is one of the only known cases of a coordinated attempt at in-person voter fraud. Conservatives touted the project as evidence of the need for voter ID laws, though election experts said other polling station methods could have prevented such a scheme from taking place.

A federal prosecutor in New Hampshire is reviewing the video and election law experts told TPM that O’Keefe’s allies could potentially face charges for obtaining ballots in the name of deceased individuals.

Some officials and observers, including a Republican mayor in New Hampshire, have called on those involved in procuring the ballots under false pretenses to be arrested.

“My first thought on watching this video is that these people are committing election fraud,” Joan F. Ashwell, an election expert with the League of Women Voters who worked the polls in Durham, New Hampshire on Tuesday told TPM. Ashwell said she was only vaguely aware of O’Keefe before the stunt.

“I was really annoyed watching it because I was a ballot clerk, and they were waiting until the ballot clerk had checked their name off on the list until they said they were going to go get their voter ID,” Ashwell said. “I just think they’ve broken the law anyway by taking a ballot.”

“They had to impersonate someone else in order to be checked off, and that’s voter fraud. I think they might have thought they were being cute, but they’re committing voter fraud and they should be prosecuted for it,” Ashwell told TPM. “The people of New Hampshire are honest, and that video is saying that anybody can be a criminal. We’re just honest people and we expect other people to be honest.”

“You start out with criminal conduct by these people to try to prove a point,” David Coleman, former counsel to the New York State Senate Election’s Committee, told TPM. “No matter what system you develop, a criminal will find a way around it. But consider how massive an effort would have to be to actually effect an election.”

“I think it’s nonsense, nobody voted, and if they voted, they’re facing a five year jail sentence, and I think very few people would be willing to risk that,” of Frank Askin of Rutgers Law School told TPM. “I think the whole thing is bullshit, frankly. It’s another one of these O’Keefe bullshit actions. Let them cast a vote, see what happens.”

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