Despite finally fading into the shadows after a contentious presidential primary race, it seems former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has foisted herself back in the spotlight — and she comes bearing conspiracy theories and aligning herself with right-wingers. Surprise!
A new Twitterstorm headed Gabbard’s way after the Hawaii Representative reinforced backing Bill H.R. 8285, better known as the Election Fraud Prevention Act (EFPA). The bill, which she first introduced earlier this month, aims to discourage ballot harvesting — but there are a few caveats to Gabbard’s support.
Ahead of the November election, the representative expressed serious concern over states that are legally allowed to practice ballot harvesting — a practice that allows third parties to collect and deliver people’s ballots in some parts of America. The EFPA would ensure that ballots are handled by election officials and mail carriers, and in certain cases, family members, household members, or caregivers.
Although her original motivations for passing a bill that would mitigate fraud before a massively important election seemed well-intentioned, nothing can ever remain that simple with this politician. Yesterday, in a move that’s already brought much backlash and concern, Gabbard tied herself to the right-wing group Project Veritas, which is currently targeting ballot harvesting and Ilhan Omar.
“Project Veritas offers further evidence of the need to ban ballot harvesting. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s been abused to help both R & D candidates, including in North Carolina & California. Please help by telling your congressional rep to pass our bipartisan bill HR8285,” Gabbard tweeted following a smear campaign that Veritas released.
Gabbard aligning herself with Project Veritas is troubling for many reasons, but particularly her choice to help spread disinformation to push her own political brand. Very little research is required to find that Project Veritas is a verified right-wing group specifically known for producing and distributing, deceptively edited videos to make organizations on the left look bad. James O’Keefe, who heads the project, is most infamous for pushing fabricated evidence about Planned Parenthood — videos that showed the health care provider “harvesting” organs and body parts from aborted fetuses and selling them. All of this was disproved.
To add fuel to the fire, the newly released videos that Gabbard refers to as capturing alleged ballot harvesting are actually completely devoid of any real evidence. The video that Project Veritas released purports to show political operatives in Minneapolis, Minnesota illegally carrying out the practice, as accused by controversial community figure Omar Jamal. Jamal accuses Ilhan Omar of being behind it all, despite total lack of evidence, and the alleged ballots not even being tied to her race. Beyond the lack of evidence, it’s completely unclear when the videos were taken, and a preliminary investigation by The Daily Dot also disproves the Jamal’s credibility as an expert.
But Rep. Omar is now under attack from the right, with people on Twitter saying that she should be cuffed and jailed. Gabbard, apparently, is fueling that hatred toward her fellow congresswoman. By giving a platform to the Veritas theories, which President Trump already tweeted about early this week, Gabbard is only aiding disinformation campaigns that will fuel political divides at a critical time.
It’s unclear why Tulsi Gabbard feels more strongly about curtailing voter fraud when voter suppression is actually the more pressing issue in 2020. But this isn’t the first time that she’s chosen to separate herself from her peers, and it won’t be the last.
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