On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Erik Prince, a notorious contractor allied with President Donald Trump, has been recruiting former American and British spies to help the GOP group Project Veritas set up sting operations against Democrats and members of the media.
"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," wrote Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman. "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 report continued: "Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her."
Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is best known for having founded Blackwater, a mercenary organization that has done business for the U.S. government. Its tactics during the Iraq War were notoriously brutal, with one of its contractors, Nicholas Slatten, sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Nisour Square massacre in 2007. Trump is reportedly considering a pardon for Slatten.
Project Veritas, headed up by right-wing activist James O'Keefe, has for years planted operatives in Democratic and media organizations, asking people leading questions and trying to ambush them saying embarrassing or biased things on hot mic. One such recent sting operation led to the suspension of ABC News correspondent David Wright.
Often, however, their stings haven't worked out so well, including an incident where O'Keefe tried to seduce a CNN reporter on a "sex boat," and another where he paid an operative to lie to the Washington Post that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had raped her.