The Beto O’Rourke campaign for senate is acknowledging several staffers used campaign funds to buy food, water and supplies for Central American migrants released in Downtown El Paso.
ABC-7 reached out to the O’Rourke campaign after the allegations were made in a Project Veritas report alleging top O’Rourke campaign staffers potentially violated federal law by using campaign funds and resources to help buy food, water and blankets for the migrants.
The O’Rourke campaign described the purchases as donations made to a local shelter.
Chris Evans, an O’Rourke campaign spokesman, emailed the following statement to ABC-7: “Staff members took it upon themselves to use prepaid cards from one of our more than 700 field offices to buy baby wipes, diapers, water, fruit and granola bars, and donate them to a local humanitarian nonprofit named Annunciation House that helps mothers and children in the community. The value was under $300 and it will be appropriately reported to the FEC.”
The campaign staffers seen in the video, recorded by a Project Veritas reporter who infiltrated the O’Rourke campaign, discuss the potential violation of Federal Election Commission rules and campaign finance laws. In the video, the staffers are allegedly heard discussing ways to make the purchases look like legitimate campaign expenses.
“We have reporters across the country who are communicating with these campaign officials and we were tipped off by one of our reporters here in Texas who told us this was happening and so we took a closer look and what we found was the campaign manager herself acknowledging that this was happening and staff members saying there are text message that confirm she knew about it,” said James O’Keefe, the founder and president of Project Veritas.
“We think, if there’s illegalities, these expenditures need to be looked in to. And if it’s a culture in the campaign where they’re doing this on a massive scale, it should be addressed,” O’Keefe said, “Why are they deceiving people about the nature of the expenditures? First, let’s agree that this is wrong. Not that charity is wrong, not that helping people is wrong, but you can’t break the law to engage in charity.”
O’Rourke’s campaign Friday also accused Texas Senator Ted Cruz of falsely suggesting it is using campaign funds to help fund the Central American migrant caravan heading to the U.S. via Mexico.
“Only days before the election, Ted Cruz shamefully and falsely suggested that the Beto For Texas campaign used campaign dollars to fund a caravan that remains hundreds of miles from the U.S.-Mexico border,” the O’Rourke campaign stated.
“Ted Cruz pushes fear and paranoia because he wants to divide and mislead Texans four days before this election,” said O’Rourke. “We should be bringing people together and defining ourselves not by who we are scared of but what we want to achieve.”
Cruz’s statement was in reference to the report by Project Veritas, which bills itself as a whistleblower group out to expose corruption. In its article regarding the video, the Dallas Morning News described Project Veritas as “a right-wing group with a checkered history of infiltrating liberal organizations and campaigns and using selective–and dubious –editing to allege wrongdoing.”
The Dallas Morning News reports O’Rourke addressed the allegations in the Project Veritas report during a rally in Lewisville.
“This is part of an effort to try to stoke fear and anxiety about immigrants, about asylum seekers,” O’Rourke said at the rally. “To the best of my knowledge, and we’re looking at this, some money was spent on baby wipes, diapers and water for women and children who desperately needed them.”
The Congressman further stated, “We’re looking at this, but anyone who is trying to politicize this is trying to win an election base on fear. I want to make sure that we’re focused on the issues that matters most to Texas.”
O’Rourke told the crowd he was “comfortable the campaign is above board, that everything is being reported to the FEC and I’m going to also make sure that I understand that’s going on, but from everything I’ve heard, that’s the sum of it.”
“There is a very serious story of these staffers saying they are masking contributions and admitting to breaking the law,” O’Keefe said, “They admit in the video to breaking the law. No my words, their words.”