Has the Robert “Beto” O’Rourke campaign illegally converted campaign resources to provide assistance to border crossers? That’s certainly what it looks like in this latest Project Veritas video, where several people discuss and execute a plan to use prepaid credit cards funded by the campaign to buy food and supplies to route to asylum seekers already in the US. That plan was apparently known and approved by O’Rourke’s campaign manager Jody Casey, among others.
Needless to say, this could create a major legal headache not just for the campaign but for everyone involved in the process:
Chacon explains that Jody Casey, the campaign manager for the O’Rourke campaign, was happy to hear about their efforts supporting aliens with campaign funds:
Chacon: “She texted us afterward and was like, I’m so happy that we have a staff that gets it and was there, I was so happy to see y’all there, still working, still contributing, we have the best team ever… she was good about it.”
Journalist: “So, Jody knows?”
Chacon: “Well, she doesn’t know we used the pre-paid card, but she doesn’t need to know.”
Added Chacon, when discussing the possibility for using campaign vans to help the Honduran aliens, “we could probably get away with using the vans… Nobody needs to know.” Chacon also says, “For me, I can just ignore the rules and I’m like f**k it.”
When asked about using campaign resources to help the Honduran aliens, Casey said “don’t worry”:
Journalist: “It just made me really concerned, like, you know, because I know that we’re using some of the campaign resources to help with the migrants and like, I just didn’t want anybody to get in trouble with that…”
Journalist: “Like I didn’t want them to ask me any questions about people using resources…”
Jody Casey: “Don’t worry.”
Andrea Reyes, who also works on the O’Rourke campaign, revealed that she has text messages showing she received approval for using the pre-paid cards:
Reyes: “The thing is yeah, as long as we’re not advertising it. I mean yeah, I don’t really know. They said it was fine sooo *throws hands up* I mean I don’t know, okay. I told you about it! I have the text messages to prove it, sooo…”
Journalist: “So you told Jody?”
Reyes: “Yeah. I told Jody and I told my director.”
We should distinguish a point or two here. There is nothing illegal about personally providing assistance to asylum seekers (James O’Keefe notes this as well at the end of the video). According to the conversations in the tape, the beneficiaries had been admitted to the US pending resolution of their asylum claims, so they were here legally, at least for the moment. A number of charitable organizations provide assistance under these circumstances already. Had it come out that O’Rourke or his staff were digging into their own pockets do this, it might become a mild political issue (although it would have cheered O’Rourke’s base too), but it wouldn’t be a legal problem.
What makes this a potential legal problem is the apparent conversion of campaign funds for personal use. That’s quite the no-no, as the FEC would certainly rush to remind O’Rourke and his team, and as PV’s attorney notes in the video. In the video, the staffers discuss falsifying records to cover up the issue, records that are submitted under oath, which creates potential criminal prosecution, as the video also notes. These problems would likely be solved by amending the FEC reports and paying back the money and perhaps paying a fine, one would figure, but only if it had come out in the first place. Without PV’s work, it never would have come to light.
So how big of a blow will this be for O’Rourke? It’s not like the other PV videos, where staffers insult their home state voters endlessly and discuss how to lie to them. Some of O’Rourke’s base will undoubtedly think this was a great use of the overwhelming resources that O’Rourke sucked up in the campaign, because those resources weren’t helping him to overtake Ted Cruz anyway. Some others, though, might wonder what else those campaign funds paid for, and that may be a question the FEC will ask, too. Mostly, though, it makes the O’Rourke campaign look like a bunch of undisciplined amateurs, all the way up to its highest levels, and to make O’Rourke look like a fool or worse. That’s not a good look for a blue candidate in a deep-red state four days before an election.