COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s top prosecutor defended the state’s contested voter identification law today at an event that doubled as a fundraiser for a conservative activist known for his undercover videos.
Attorney General Alan Wilson appeared before about a dozen people Tuesday with activist James O’Keefe in Columbia, who founded the Washington-based nonprofit, Project Veritas.
O’Keefe became famous several years ago for wearing a pimp costume in a video that embarrassed the community organizing group ACORN.
O’Keefe told the gathering he intends to make more videos, in which he pledged to “actually catch voter fraud as it actually happens.”
“We plan to actually catch non-citizens voting,” O’Keefe said, but he didn’t say where or when he thought that might happen.
Wilson lauded O’Keefe and criticized the Justice Department’s intervention in the South Carolina case.
“What the Justice Department did was deny South Carolina voters the protection of law,” he said.
The attorney general made the fight to preserve South Carolina’s voter ID law one of his trademark issues after the U.S. Department of Justice rejected the law last year. The agency said tens of thousands of the state’s minorities might not be able to cast ballots under the new law because they don’t have the right photo ID.
The department also said the law, approved by legislators last year, failed to meet the requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory practices that prevent blacks from voting. The law also requires the Justice Department to approve changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect the voting rights of blacks.
Organizers said they couldn’t immediately say how much money was raised by the breakfast event, which was attended by about a dozen people. The cost was advertised as $50 a person.
At the event, O’Keefe played a video that has been on the internet which shows an associate of his trying to vote as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a Washington, D.C. polling station during the District’s primary earlier this month
The District doesn’t require ID to vote, so the poll worker verifies the name spelling and address before offering a ballot. Then the activist insists on leaving to get an ID.
O’Keefe said the video shows how “vulnerable” the voting system is.
The District of Columbia Board of Elections has opened an investigation, saying the incident on video was fraud but acknowledging it’s not clear whether the actions could lead to prosecution.
In January, New Hampshire’s attorney general launched a review of state voting procedures after Project Veritas posted a video that appeared to show people using the names of dead residents on primary day to get ballots at polling places.