Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s campaign claims the right-leaning Project Veritas committed fraud in its production of hidden camera video of her and her staff.
Campaign manager David Kirby Wednesday called on the state Attorney General’s office to investigate the activities as a violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
Kirby said Attorney General Josh Hawley should recuse himself from the probe because as McCaskill’s Republican challenger in the Senate race, he’s celebrated and circulated the videos in campaign emails.
Kirby further stated that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the allegations and noted the McCaskill campaign had retained an attorney.
Hawley quickly responded, saying that if McCaskill had any evidence of a crime to please come forward with it immediately, otherwise stop politicizing the legal process for political gain. Hawley also referenced the hidden camera videos, stating that McCaskill and her staff had been caught on tape telling the truth.
The secret video attempts to portray McCaskill as more liberal than her campaign implies through hidden camera recordings of her acknowledging her preference for gun laws and through footage of her staff embracing former President Barack Obama.
Campaign staff also appear in the hidden camera footage erroneously claiming that Planned Parenthood did not support her campaign. The organization has contributed to McCaskill’s campaign.
The videos were orchestrated by Project Veritas head James O’Keefe, who is known for his right-leaning hidden-camera-style investigations.
Kirby mentioned two people close to Hawley he said had previous knowledge of the video. One is conservative St. Louis radio talk show host and former state Republican Party chairman Ed Martin, who Kirby said is prominently featured in the video. The other is St. Louis based Republican operative Gregg Keller.
Keller said he had nothing to do with the production and distribution of the video, but wished he had.
Kirby claimed the hidden camera video was captured under false pretenses and misrepresentations, which he said is fraud under Missouri law and a violation of the state Merchandising Practices Act. He also said the campaign believes other legal violations occurred that are outside the scope of the attorney general’s office that may be pursued with the attorney the campaign retained.
McCaskill’s campaign backed off a Tuesday night statement implying that Hawley had played a role in fraudulently embedding someone on her staff. Kirby wouldn’t specify that Hawley took part in any alleged illegal activity but knew of its illicit nature and actively promoted it. He said, “That’s a question for Josh Hawley. What did he know? When did he know it.”
Kirby went on to say that the campaign has knowledge of when the fraudulently embedded person may have been functioning on behalf of Project Veritas.
He said Hawley, as attorney general, had failed to identify a fraudulent act, but instead had engaged in “gutter politics”
Hawley was a guest Wednesday night on the conservative Fox News cable TV show Hannity, the same outlet where the Project Veritas video first appeared in front of a wide audience.
The Republican challenger continued to attack McCaskill as misrepresenting herself as a moderate while host Sean Hannity said the video exposed her bragging about being anti-second amendment and lying to Missouri residents after embracing the policies of former Democratic President Obama.
Hawley appeared on the program with Arizona Republican Congresswoman and Senate candidate Martha McSally.
McCaskill and Hawley are locked in a tight battle for U.S. Senate seat that could determine which party controls the chamber after November’s election.