POLITICS

Right-Wing Operative Tried To Infiltrate At Least 3 Democratic Campaigns

Allison Maass has been spotted at offices for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold.

08/19/2016 04:10 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2016
Russ Feingold Senate campaign
A woman identifying herself as Allison Moss tried to sign up as a volunteer for Russ Feingold's campaign in Wisconsin.

A conservative woman caught trying to infiltrate Russ Feingold’s Senate campaign on Wednesday has also been spotted in ― and kicked out of ― field offices for both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

A woman identifying herself as Allison Moss tried to sign up as a volunteer at Feingold’s office in Madison, Wisconsin, this week, claiming she had been involved in College Democrats at the University of Minnesota. But after some vetting turned up suspicious information, the campaign brought Moss back in on Wednesday to ask her questions about her background. 

Moss actually appears to be Allison Maass, a former correspondent for Campus Reform whose author page says she “exposes liberal bias and abuse in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.” The group is a project of the Leadership Institute, an organization committed to building up conservative activists that spawned provocateur James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas. 

Maass initially tried to deny to the Feingold campaign that she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but eventually simply stopped answering questions: 

FEINGOLD CAMPAIGN: Can you tell us if you’re working for anyone in particular?

MAASS: I’m not really going to answer any questions.

FEINGOLD CAMPAIGN: Or whether you’re recording us?

MAASS: Not really going to answer any questions.

Campus Reform said Maass is no longer affiliated with the group, and a call to the phone number she provided to the Feingold campaign was not returned. Project Veritas has said it does not reveal the identify of its operatives. 

But this isn’t the first time Maass has attempted to infiltrate a campaign.

After The Huffington Post reported on the Feingold infiltration attempt in Wisconsin, two former Sanders campaign staffers immediately recognized Maass as the woman who tried to do the same thing in Nevada. Jordan Barbeau and John Gagain Jr. said they confronted Maass when she tried to volunteer at their headquarters in Las Vegas ahead of the February caucuses. 

Maass, who also used a fake name in February, said she was from the Bay Area and flew out with a friend to help Sanders win, Barbeau told HuffPost. She first noticed something was amiss when Maass provided not a California phone number, but a New York one ― just as she did to the Feingold campaign. 

“It seemed weird to me that she had a New York phone number when she had been telling me she was a California native, and I’m from the Bay Area and I’ve lived in New York,” Barbeau told HuffPost Friday. “She didn’t seem to want to talk about it and was weirdly vague. It just seemed odd to me.”

Maass, who had brought along a friend, was particularly interested in issues of voter registration ― particularly whom the Sanders staffers were trying to get to caucus. 

“She was asking things like, ‘Do you have to show ID? What if you’re out of state?’ ‘What if you just moved here?’ She was asking various staff whether they were from Nevada, whether they were from other states, whether they were going to be caucusing in Nevada. ... She was asking these questions over and over again of multiple staffers and multiple volunteers, and that’s what really threw up the red flag,” Barbeau said.

Barbeau added that the campaign policy was that people who did not live in Nevada prior to being hired by the campaign could not caucus there. 

Staffers were on alert because O’Keefe operatives had earlier showed up at Sanders’ New Hampshire offices

Maass came back to Sanders’ Vegas office to volunteer again later in the week. This time, Gagain approached her and asked her why she was there. According to Gagain, she initially tried to claim she was with the campaign ― until he informed her that he was with the campaign and didn’t know her. She then claimed she knew people there, throwing out random first names of people who didn’t exist. 

Gagain then encouraged her to leave, snapping a photo of her on her way out: 

The man sitting in the chair in the burgundy shirt appears to be Christian Hartsock, a conservative filmmaker who has worked with O’Keefe on his stings. Hartsock did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Maass was also involved in an undercover sting attempt against Hillary Clinton last year, trying to entrap supporters in Iowa. She and two other women tried to pass a cash donation to Clinton volunteers and asked whether they could refuse to register voters who weren’t Clinton supporters. (The answer was no.) 

In March, one of O’Keefe’s plots went astray when he called up the liberal Open Society Institute and left a voice message under the name “Victor Kesh,” saying he was a Hungarian-American man representing a foundation. The problem was that O’Keefe forgot to hang up the phone before he proceeded to talk about his plot with his colleague. 

This piece has been updated with information about Hartsock.


Want more updates from Amanda? Sign up for her newsletter, Piping Hot Truth.

Suggest a correction
211 Comments

CONVERSATIONS