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Politics

Hillary Clinton Camp Sees Proof Of Undercover Conservative Sting

The campaign provided emails that aides say link a series of recent incidents in Iowa to Project Veritas, the conservative investigative group.

Originally posted on
Updated on

For the Hillary Clinton campaign, a four-day investigation has come to a close.

Aides point to emails and a screenshot, uncovered on Tuesday, as proof that Project Veritas is linked to a string of recent incidents in Iowa: undercover maneuvers by fake supporters to trick or provoke Clinton volunteers and operatives into doing things that are illegal, inappropriate, or embarrassing.

The documents, provided by the campaign, show messages sent to Tom D’Angora, a Clinton volunteer in New York, by a woman called Allison Holmes.

The correspondence, dated Aug. 19, appears to link Holmes to the conservative group, Project Veritas — and to what the Clinton campaign has described as the recent attempts in Iowa by three supposed supporters, one of whom also went by Allison Holmes, to bait staffers and volunteers into breaking protocol.

On Friday, the Clinton campaign identified Holmes as one of three people linked to these alleged Iowa sting operations, as first reported by TIME. Afterward, D'Angora, the New York volunteer, remembered an odd exchange he'd had with an Allison Holmes, and forwarded it to campaign officials, Clinton aides said.

In the new messages, pictured below, Holmes asks D'Angora if she and two friends can attend a voter registration event on Aug. 22. (Incidentally, there was no such event planned for Aug. 22, according to the campaign.) Holmes identifies the friends as Jamie Kingston and Michelle Harvey.

But Holmes's initial email to D'Angora also came with an apparently inadvertent attachment: a screenshot suggesting that at least one of those "friends" — Kingston — was presenting him or herself under a false identity.

The image appears to show an email listing Kingston's name and contact information, prefaced by the note, "Hey my falsified information is..."

Project Veritas, founded five years ago by the activist James O’Keefe, did not deny the claims or the evidence put forward by Clinton officials. The organization, according to a statement provided by communications director Daniel Pollack, "does not comment on ongoing investigations, real or imagined."

The Iowa incidents allegedly involving Holmes, as well as two other women, according to campaign officials, bear all the markings of what they described as a subversive effort four to ensnare Clinton supporters and volunteers into bad behavior. The two other women went by Jess Koski and Jess Jones, aides said.

The campaign described four separate occasions involving Holmes, Koski, or Jones: The first took place on July 17 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when one of the women attempted to hand a cash contribution to Clinton campaign volunteers and interns. (Campaign finance regulation does not allow cash donations.) Next, on Aug. 13, one of the women identified herself as Canadian and asked a Clinton campaign "fellow," or unpaid organizer, for instructions to falsify a donation. (Another violation.)

On Aug. 19, a woman asked the Clinton campaign if her parents could give an additional $2,700 to the campaign in her own name, in order to skirt campaign contribution limits. And most recently, on Aug. 20, one of the women returned to a campaign office in Des Moines after supposedly registering Iowans to vote, when she asked staffers there whether she could refuse to register non-Clinton supporters. (Doing so would amount to yet another violation.)

On Friday, just after the episode in Des Moines, the Clinton campaign went public with their suspicions in the TIME report, apparently hoping to smoke out Project Veritas or the motivations behind the three women in question.

In response, Project Veritas posted a headline on their website homepage that ran, "Paranoia in Hillary's Campaign?" An attached blogpost added, “The level of paranoid within the Clinton campaign is certainly interesting...One wonders what they are hiding over at Clinton HQ, aside from perhaps a few emails."

The founder of Project Veritas, O’Keefe, is still best known for his aggressive video campaign in 2009 against the group, now defunct, known as ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

The email exchange, provided by the Clinton campaign on Tuesday, starts with a woman who identifies herself as Allison Holmes asking to bring a friend to a voter registration event.

Attached to that email, according to the campaign, was this screenshot.

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The campaign volunteer responded to the email from Holmes with information about the planned weekend of action (there was no voter registration event scheduled) and asked for the contact information of the friend.

Holmes responded with the information for Kingston. In the prior screenshot, Kingston's name and contact information is listed as "my falsified information." The screenshot appears to have been sent inadvertently.

Ruby Cramer is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Ruby Cramer at ruby.cramer@buzzfeed.com.

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