Ossoff’s campaign says ‘deceitful’ Project Veritas targets his staffers, parents

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Jon Ossoff’s aides said Friday that operatives with the conservative group Project Veritas Action recently tried to infiltrate the Democrat’s campaign for U.S. Senate and recorded undercover video of his parents and a field organizer.

His campaign spokeswoman, Miryam Lipper, said the group used “deceitful tactics,” including ambushing one of his aides at a coffee shop this week while he was with a woman he thought he was courting on a date.

She wound up being an undercover Project Veritas staffer using a fake name, the campaign said, and the date was interrupted when group founder James O’Keefe emerged with a camera crew to question him about Ossoff’s policy positions.

The campaign’s statement comes as polls show him deadlocked in the polls with U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a first-term Republican. Project Veritas spokesman Neil W. McCabe confirmed the group was involved in the operation and that the video would soon be released.

Ossoff’s campaign shared a timeline of the Project Veritas operation with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Before the coffee meeting, Ossoff’s aides say the same Project Veritas staffer who courted the campaign staffer told him that a family member was killed by gun violence. The campaign said it was part of an attempt to “mischaracterize” Ossoff’s positions on key issues.

Two other operatives, both using fake names, also approached Ossoff’s parents probing for details about the candidate’s internal polling, the campaign said. One of the operatives approached Ossoff at an event, according to the campaign, and later found his mother’s phone number and invited her to lunch. She declined.

And the campaign said several junior staffers received an email Thursday that appeared to come from an intern asking for their cell phone numbers, but they soon deduced that it came from a phony account.

Lipper said the group has engaged in “fraudulent, criminal political activity” and aimed to “spread misinformation through deceptively edited video to push false political narratives.”

“These deceitful tactics must be rejected by campaigns, candidates and organizations across the political spectrum and represent the very worst of American politics today,” she said.

Led by O’Keefe, Project Veritas had built a reputation for sting operations using clandestine techniques, such as hidden cameras and microphones, aimed mostly at infiltrating Democratic campaigns, left-leaning groups and news media and social media organizations, The New York Times reports.

The targets often claimed the videos are deceptively edited to provoke conservative outrage.

More recently, Project Veritas staffers showed up at the home of Mark Kelly, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona. The Arizona Republic reported that three men who said they worked for the group stayed at the home for at least 30 minutes after they were told Kelly was unavailable.