Mysterious benefactor for NC voting rights groups raises suspicion of GOP sting operation

Mysterious benefactor for NC voting rights groups raises suspicion of GOP sting operation
Image via Screengrab.

According to The Daily Beast, voting rights groups in North Carolina were approached by a strange benefactor calling himself "James Fortune" — and his behavior aroused suspicions that he might be part of a Republican sting operation to discredit laws expanding access to the vote.

"Fortune, who claimed to be the operator of a progressive-minded North Carolina gym called 'Equality Gym,' donated a few thousand dollars to the groups. Then he started asking whether they could illegally register undocumented immigrants to vote," reported Will Sommer. "As the groups became suspicious, Fortune vanished — leaving behind only a blurry picture of himself, no proof that his gym actually existed, and suspicions that he was using an alias."

Indeed, the only evidence that Equality Gym exists is a Twitter account created in June, that provides no link to a website or information about a company. Its location is set to "New York" and its entire feed consists of random retweets of Democrats and sports news.

Democratic groups suspect that the whole thing could be the work of James O'Keefe, a right-wing activist whose group, Project Veritas, sets up sting operations to try to trick Democrats into supporting illegal activity and then posting videos of it. There is no evidence that O'Keefe specifically is involved, although he did launch a similar operation in Wisconsin, setting up a fake documentary team called "Zeitgeist Pictures" to interview progressive organizations.

Whether or not O'Keefe is behind the North Carolina affair, though, there is a clear Republican footprint.

"Whoever he really is, Fortune appears to have been working on behalf of at least one Republican operative. That $1,500 payment to Fortaleza, according to Echeverria and reporting from the News & Observer, traced back to a mysterious Georgia business called Blue Sky Med Labs," reported Sommer. "Blue Sky Med Labs is registered to Jason Boles, a Georgia Republican operative who also registered the campaign organization for Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon believer and Georgia House candidate almost certain to win a congressional seat in November."

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