Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
In a bid to win an Arizona U.S. Senate seat, Democrat Mark Kelly may be concealing a deeper agenda on gun control than he is willing to state publicly.
That claim wouldn’t ordinarily raise eyebrows during a campaign season. But this time it comes from his own allies and supporters, captured on hidden camera by grassroots investigator James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas.
First up was Angelica Carpio, a Democrat field organizer who was secretly filmed acknowledging what she believes to be Kelly’s true aims: “I just think he wants to get those independents. One of their main issues is guns. So, I don’t think he’s fully been out there saying, like, I want a full gun control type measure, and I think it’s because he wants to get elected first, and then he wants to go further.”
“Even the staffers are like kind of confused,” Carpio acknowledged. “Like, we want him to come full-force out. The problem is this is such a consequential state, and I think he’s trying to be elected and then he’ll implement the measures.”
“You always can’t trust politicians,” she said. “I’m like, defaming my campaign right now.”
A second video caught Everytown for Gun Safety employee Alan Bederka possibly disclosing Kelly’s private intentions, and even suggesting covert coordination.
“[Kelly] just doesn’t make it a main focal point of his campaign,” Bederka told a Project Veritas undercover reporter. “Whereas if he’s, you know, open about his opinions, but doesn’t focus specifically on the ones that are less likely to change peoples’ minds, there’s a higher probability of him being able to enact the kind of legislation you’re hoping to see get enacted, you know?”
Legislation including an “assault-weapons” ban “would be freaking lovely,” said Bederka.
Speaking with America’s First Freedom, O’Keefe (who recently sued the FBI after he was temporarily denied by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System) says candidates are often dishonest about their views on the Second Amendment.
“We’ve seen this year, people don’t want to talk about what they believe in,” O’Keefe says. “It’s very ironic, they don’t want to talk about their own positions and policies; they want to avoid that because they know if they do, they can’t win. So, it’s just a matter of capturing what they really believe.”
Indeed, Kelly’s true beliefs on gun control are unmistakable. Together with his wife, former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, Kelly helped found the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a repackaged hybrid of anti-gun groups boasting millions in revenues. The group has spent millions in political campaigns to unseat gun-friendly legislators, and has a history of collaborating with Everytown, which is also spending millions to elect Kelly.
Together with Giffords, Kelly has headlined multi-city gun-control tours, written op-eds supporting gun control, and was denied a gun purchase during his own hidden-camera attempt to purchase an AR-15.
Yet, when launching his campaign last year, gun control was conspicuously absent from Kelly’s agenda; in fact, Kelly styled himself as a gun owner and “Second Amendment supporter” opposed to bans and confiscations of semi-automatic rifles. Maybe that’s because the issue has featured prominently in Arizona.
His campaign website only addresses “universal background checks” and red-flag laws—proposals which Everytown’s Bederka calls “very milquetoast.”
Bederka also suggests covert coordination between the campaign and anti-gun lobbying groups, admitting the groups “pass messages” through press releases. “It’s an imperfect system. I mean, I wish we would just give up the goat (sic), stop pretending that we aren’t connected and we have to keep this firewall or whatever, but that’s typically how it’s done.”
He also admits the collaboration would be politically damaging. “The problem is that if the NRA were to find out we were doing that; they would make hay out of it. They would take us to court, and they would tear us apart.”
O’Keefe says it’s too early to tell about any political fallout affecting the election, but notes the videos have so far garnered millions of views, and says his group will continue investigating and releasing videos.
In a year where gun policy still outranks many other topics, and as new firearm purchases keep obliterating prior records (particularly in “swing states”), the Second Amendment is on the ballot more than ever.
Kelly received an “F” rating from the NRA’s Political Victory Fund. Republican candidate and retired fighter pilot Martha McSally has received an “A” rating.