NYT: Erik Prince Hired Ex-Spy To Infiltrate A Democratic Congressional Campaign
The New York Times reported in March that Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, hired spies to infiltrate a teacher's union and Abigail Spanberger's campaign on behalf of Project Veritas, a right-wing group linked to Ginnie Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
- Prince “has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda,” The Times reported.
One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.
- The following year, that same operative used a different alias to infiltrate the campaign of Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat and former CIA officer who went on to win a seat in the House.
- Both operations were directed by Project Veritas, The Times reported, describing the organization as “a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups.”
Both Project Veritas and Mr. Prince have ties to President Trump’s aides and family. Whether any Trump administration officials or advisers to the president were involved in the operations, even tacitly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vigorous private campaign to try to undermine political groups or individuals perceived to be in opposition to Mr. Trump’s agenda.
James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas, claims President Trump encouraged him to infiltrate Columbia University, and take President Obama's transcripts.