NH steps up probe of voter fraud prompted by videos
By Evan Lips | March 17, 2016, 19:58 EST
CONCORD, N.H. – A funny thing happened Thursday to James O’Keefe as he was delivering Gov. Maggie Hassan a hard drive’s worth of raw video that the undercover videographer says shows that conditions were ripe for rampant voter fraud during the Granite State primary season – he was served with a criminal subpoena demanding the surrender of the same material to the state.
“A better use of taxpayer dollars would be to investigate the people we actually exposed on video instead of the journalists who uncovered the truth about how easy it is to break election laws,” O’Keefe, whose Project Veritas specializes in impersonation and hidden-camera reporting, said in a statement.
O’Keefe was less subtle on social media:
Give it to them on a silver platter, they deny facts and turn it around on us. Video a bank robbery, they investigate the videographer.
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) March 17, 2016
In a Project Veritas video posted on YouTube.com, the 31-year-old self-described muckraker is shown hand-delivering the hard drive to Hassan’s office. He is then shown outside Hassan’s office being served by state Criminal Bureau Chief Investigator Richard D. Tracy with a subpoena ordering him to appear before a Hillsborough County grand jury and “disclose the original copy” of each of the three undercover videos his group shot in February.
The first of three hidden videos purport to show New Hampshire poll workers instructing O’Keefe’s undercover journalists, who posed as out-of-state residents, how to take advantage of same-day registration laws to vote in the primary.
O’Keefe claims his group’s second video, released Feb. 18, shows a Colorado native and campaign staffer working for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talking about how he used the campaign office address to register to vote in the first-in-the-nation primary.
The third video, released a week later, purportedly shows Australian nationals acknowledging via hidden camera that they are working for Sanders’s campaign at the expense of the Australian Labor Party, a violation of Federal Election Commission laws.
Immediately following the release of O’Keefe’s first video, New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Stephen LaBonte said his office would launch an investigation into potential voter fraud.
On Wednesday, Manchester broadcaster WMUR-TV reported that former Granite State Republican House Speaker William O’Brien has formally filed a complaint, asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate alleged illegal campaign contributions made to Sanders on behalf of the Australian Labor Party.
Federal election laws make it illegal for “a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make” contributions “in connection with a federal, state, or local election.”
The Sanders campaign has yet to officially respond to both O’Keefe’s and O’Brien’s allegations.
At a briefing for reporters Thursday, O’Keefe talked about how he had been asked in a “threatening way” in three separate letters from the state attorney general’s office to fork over the complete, unedited videos.
Here’s today’s press conference condensed down to 30 seconds pic.twitter.com/mqn3H9zYqp
— PVeritas Action (@PVeritas_Action) March 17, 2016
Earlier this month O’Keefe sued in federal court in Boston to overturn state laws that deal with recording people’s words without their consent, claiming the statutes are unconstitutional. Under Bay State law, those who make undercover audio recording, including those with video, can face criminal charges and fines of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison.
Regarding his recent New Hampshire videos, O’Keefe said that a 30-day residency requirement contained in a voting law Hassan vetoed last year could have eliminated the conditions he says his videos exposed.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives earlier this month passed a 10-day version of the same bill, which is now headed to the state Senate.
“The videos spotlight a significant legislative problem which could have easily been avoided if Gov. Hassan hadn’t vetoed last year’s residency bill,” O’Keefe said.