In a unanimous vote at a rare emergency meeting held late Friday afternoon, Virginia’s State Board of Elections asked state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate a video report that caught the field director for Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Moran’s campaign in an apparent conspiracy to commit election fraud.
The video sting by James O’Keefe‘s Project Veritas, first reported by WND, prompted the resignation of Patrick Moran, who is also Jim Moran’s son, and a criminal investigation by the Arlington County Police Department in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
Cuccinelli’s spokesman, Brian Gottstein, told WND the attorney general’s office “will get with local law enforcement, which has already been looking into the matter, and see what information they’ve already gathered.”
“We could work side-by-side, or they could ask us to solely continue the investigation,” he said.
Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told WND Thursday that the department decided to launch an investigation into a possible “election offense” by Patrick Moran after media reported the video sting Wednesday.
Cuccinelli’s office was aware of the Moran case Wednesday when Gottstein explained to WND that to take on the case, his office would need a request from the commonwealth attorney in Arlington, where the alleged offense took place, or a unanimous vote of the state Board of Elections.
Now that the AG has the case, Gottstein told WND late Friday that while election law issues are always a high priority, there is no timeline for completion.
He said Cuccinelli “has stressed to staff on all investigative matters that making sure we’ve done it right is more important than making sure we’ve done it fast.”
Cuccinelli, a rising star in the Republican Party, is a candidate for Virginia governor in 2013.
Patrick Moran is also the nephew of Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran, Jim Moran’s brother.
In a statement, Brian Moran said his nephew made “a mistake” and called him “a good kid.”
“He has taken responsibility and has stepped down from the Moran campaign,” Brian Moran said. “The Democratic Party of Virginia is an organization that stands for free and open participation in our elections and we oppose even the appearance of any effort to undermine those values.”
Patrick Moran, however, has insisted the whole interchange with the undercover reporter was a joke to him. He explained that he stepped down, “because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.”
He asserted “at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior.”
“At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him,” Moran said.
Washington Post columnist Christ Cillizza made Patrick Moran the recipient of his “Worst Week in Washington” award,” for “forgetting that walking away is sometimes the best policy.”
He insisted that “the damage to Moran and his father will probably be minimal,” pointing out that Barack Obama won 69 percent of the vote in Virginia’s 8th District in 2008, and Jim Moran was reelected to an 11th term in 2010 with 61 percent support.
“Still, becoming the national poster boy for vote fraud is never a good thing,” he wrote.
Prior to the announcement by the Board of Elections, the campaign manager for Patrick Murray, Jim Moran’s Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 election, told WND the Murray campaign was pleased that Arlington police were investigating.
“The reason that we’re running is to retire Jim Moran, because he’s been ethically challenged congressman for the past two decades,” David O’Connell told WND.
As WND reported, Jim Moran, 67, a controversial figure in Congress, has been criticized for his collaboration with Islamic leaders with ties to terrorism. In 2003, Moran, then a regional whip in the House of Representatives, was punished by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi after he suggested Jews were responsible for the push for war against Iraq.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful that a sitting congressman would have a staff member who would advocate and or condone voter fraud,” O’Connell said.
Ironically, on Tuesday, Jim Moran was one of three Virginia lawmakers who called on the Justice Department to investigate possible voter registration fraud tied to a Florida company.
O’Connell said Moran only has to “look in the mirror if he wants someone to investigate voter fraud.”
Moran’s office has not replied to WND requests for comment, and the congressman seems to have disappeared from public view.
“It’s kind of strange and disheartening that you have a member of Congress that is at the center of political stories right now, and he is nowhere to be found,” O’Connell said. “Why is he hiding? Where is he?”
Wednesday, Cuccinelli’s office accepted another election case and called for legislation that would give him concurrent authority with local state attorneys to “investigate and prosecute election law violations without awaiting a formal request from any other entity.”
Former Federal Elections Commission member and Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky told WND after seeing the video that both the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Cuccinelli’s office should investigate.
“Under federal law, attempting to solicit fraudulent votes is a federal felony, and it appears that is exactly what may have happened in video,” he said.
Fake utility bills
Moran was videoed by the Project Veritas reporter Oct. 8 at the Cosi Restaurant in Arlington, Va., just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital. The video shows the undercover reporter posing as a citizen concerned that the Democratic Party might lose power in the upcoming Nov. 6 elections.
The reporter, who approaches Moran at the restaurant, says he has a friend who found the names of 100 Virginia residents who have been registered the past three elections but have not voted.
Later, Moran suggests creating fake utility bills to serve as voter ID so the Project Veritas reporter can cast ballots in the names of the registered voters. Moran warns there will be “a lot of voter protection” at the polling places to enforce the state’s identification laws.
“So, if they just have the utility bill or bank statement – bank statement would obviously be tough … but faking a utility bill would be easy enough,” Moran says.
Project Veritas has conducted this year an ongoing series of investigations in more than a dozen states “demonstrating the ease with which election fraud can be committed and legitimate voters can be disenfranchised.”
As WND reported, earlier this month O’Keefe’s team captured on video a regional director of the voter mobilization group launched by Barack Obama, Organizing for America, helping an undercover reporter vote for the president in two states. The director was fired after the video was reported.
Media requests to interview James O’Keefe can be made via [email protected]