By Will Swaim | Watchdog.org
The son of a prominent Virginia congressman agreed to help an undercover reporter forge documents in what he thought was an illegal voting effort to re-elect the president, a just-published video reveals.
After raising legal and practical concerns, Patrick Moran, son of Virginia Democrat James Moran, encouraged the reporter to create phony utility bills that would allow others to cast multiple votes in the November 6 election.
Supporters of stronger voter ID laws seized on the video as evidence of widespread corruption among liberal get-out-the-vote organizations.
“What he’s doing is soliciting fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent ballots, and that’s a federal crime,” said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. “Even attempting to do that is federal crime — you don’t have to go through with it. Attempting it is a crime.”
Von Spakovsky said he would to expect the U.S. attorney in Alexandria to investigate.
But the video shows something else: In addition to possible election fraud, the interaction at a restaurant near the Arlington County Democratic Committee headquarters sheds light on a federal government in which cash and favors flow between private corporations and powerful lawmakers — and their children.
The undercover reporter was on assignment for Project Veritas, the James O’Keefe-led organization whose other undercover videos include a series that led to the collapse of ACORN, a prominent liberal community organization, and more recently one that led to the firing of an Obama campaign worker engaged in what appeared to be a voter-fraud effort in Houston.
Video and a transcript reviewed by Watchdog.org reveal that Moran, who works in an office shared with other Democratic campaigns including the president’s re-election organization, tried several times to persuade the undercover reporter to abandon the conspiracy as too difficult and even dangerous, before offering to help in the effort.
Saying he respected the undercover reporter’s “initiative,” Moran went on to offer advice on circumventing Virginia election law.
“Realistically speaking what do you need to vote for … if you were to go in and vote for someone else in Virginia, you go to the polling place, you need either a utility bill,” Moran says.
At that point, the undercover reporter objects that a utility bill is “going to be kind of hard to get.”
Moran replies that the reporter might need something less than that — just “a name and an address, which I think would probably be easy.”
Armed with phony documents, Moran tells the reporter, fraudsters could rely on the help of well-intentioned, highly motivated Democratic poll watchers. On the one hand, Moran says, government poll workers will “be cracking down” on voters who can’t prove they have the right to vote. On the other, “You’ll have somebody in house that — if they feel that what you have is legitimate — they’ll argue for you.”
BEHIND THE PROVOCATIVE VIDEO there’s a classic Washington story: a son who, despite his relative youth, has leveraged his father’s powerful contacts to create an impressive-sounding professional resume.
His father Jim Moran, a long-serving Democratic congressman from Northern Virginia, is running for his 12th term against Republican Patrick Murray.
Patrick’s Uncle Brian Moran — that would be Rep. Jim Moran’s brother — chairs the Virginia Democratic Party and formerly served as minority caucus chairman in the state’s House of Delegates. Elected to the House in 1996, Moran stepped down to run for governor in 2009, but was defeated in the Democratic primary.
Fourteen years younger than brother Jim, Brian comes off as less overtly partisan. But a Republican delegate said his former House colleague is no pushover politically. “He has a job to do and, as the Democratic Party chair, he has to be their attack dog, so some Republicans don’t like him.”
The Morans are a close-knit political family. Three years ago, Jim’s congressional campaign gave $175,000 to “Virginians for Brian Moran,” his brother’s gubernatorial campaign. Patrick’s sister, Mary Elise, is her father’s campaign manager — Patrick’s boss in the organization where Patrick is listed as campaign field director. Documents show he has earned just $2,526 in that position.
But Patrick Moran’s online profile suggests he’s more than just his dad’s campaign worker. On his Linkedin profile, the younger Moran says he’s a graduate of the Maryland prep school Chopticon and Yale University’s class of 2012. More notably, he says he works as a staff adviser for Deloitte, serving since May 2009 in the high-octane management consultancy’s federal government-relations division. The same profile lists Arlington-based BAE Systems as a previous employer. Formerly British Aerospace Engineering, BAE is a major Pentagon contractor.
The Deloitte and BAE connections are compelling for a number of reasons. Both companies have contributed to his father’s congressional campaigns, perhaps recognizing Jim Moran’s key role on the Defense subcommittee in the House of Representatives and as a ranking member of the subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. According to federal documents, Deloitte has contributed $41,000 to Jim Moran’s campaigns.
Then, there’s Patrick’s youth: if his Linkedin profile is correct, he went to work for Deloitte when he was just 20 years old and still in college. And if, as his profile claims, he’s still working for Deloitte today, he’s got remarkable energy even for a 23-year-old ex-varsity football player: despite the demands of working for Deloitte and on his father’s campaign, the same Linkedin profile asserts that he works as a bouncer at an Arlington nightclub.
But the Deloitte gig seems unlikely to be quite the fulltime position the younger Moran makes of it on Linkedin. In his profile on the Arlington Young Democrats website, where Moran holds down yet another post — he’s that group’s political director — Moran mentions his work with Deloitte in a way that fudges the relationship, making it seem possible that it was a series of summer internships.
Jim Moran for Congress spokesperson Austin Durrer said Patrick’s job at Deloitte was an unpaid college internship. The BEA listing, he says, refers to Patrick’s internship with the defense contractor while a high school sophomore.
A spokesperson for Deloitte said the company would not comment on employees, not even to confirm dates of employment. BEA Systems did not respond to requests for comment.
[UPDATE: 7:04 pm Eastern: A Deloitte spokesperson emailed Watchdog: "We can confirm that Patrick Moran does not work at Deloitte. He was an intern at Deloitte LLP for a number of months while in college."]
Dig deeper than the Linkedin profile, and there’s the hint of a family with radically fluctuating finances.
A ONE-TIME STOCKBROKER, Rep. Moran continued investing after his 1991 election to the House of Representatives. One of his former wives reportedly described his trading behavior as “stock market gambling.”
In his most controversial stock market trades, Moran made more than 90 trades in 2008 after attending a secret Federal Reserve briefing warning of an impending worldwide financial crisis. The holdings Moran disclosed in 2008 included stock in General Dynamics and BAE Systems, which both received earmarks requested by Moran that year, according to financial and earmark disclosure records. The earmarks were for $1.6 million each.
“It’s an unbelievable fabrication of the truth,” said Durrer, the congressman’s campaign spokesperson. “The financial holdings belonged to his wife. Her broker managed and sold off the portfolio. (Moran) was never in the room.”
Moran’s problems are often like that, a result of mixing money and politics followed by Moran’s claim that the charges are lies spread by his political opponents.
In the most notorious case, the New York Times reported that MBNA bank lent him $447,500 in 1998 to refinance his personal credit card debt — at the same time the bank was pushing a bill on bankruptcy reform. A year later he accepted a $25,000 line of credit from Schering-Plough before co-sponsoring a bill involving the drug maker. Moran also accepted a $50,000 loan from a top AOL official while the company had legislation pending.
Despite the ambitious financial activity, a recent Washington Post analysis calculated that Moran’s total wealth is among the lowest in congress — just $266,507 in 2010. Last month, the Northern Virginia website ARLnow.com noted that the 11-term congressman “recently divorced from third wife LuAnn Bennett, lives with his son Patrick in a two-bedroom apartment in Shirlington.”
“Jim Moran remains a popular figure in his Democratic-leaning district despite a succession of gaffes and questions about his finances,” the Wall Street Journal recently wrote.
The gaffes include a failed mass-transit initiative Moran sponsored.
“Moran defended in early 2009 his acquisition of $2 million in congressional earmarks to create a fleet of electric buses to ease congestion in the Washington suburb of Falls Church, Va.,” the Journal reported. “The city ended up with diesel buses instead, usage was half what was expected, and taxpayers had to subsidize the service at $8 a ride.”
“We gave it our best shot,” Moran said. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea.”
Then, too, there was Moran’s odd about-face on government identification. At a town hall meeting on health care reform, a combative Moran asked a participant to show his ID before Moran would answer his question. Ironically, Moran was one of 15 Democrats sponsoring a federal bill to repeal state and local voter ID laws. Moran later apologized.
A LITTLE MORE than a week before O’Keefe released his undercover video, James and Brian Moran, the congressman’s brother and the state Democratic Party chair, turned up at an Obama for America office in Mount Vernon to fire up volunteers preparing to register voters in advance of the state deadline.
After the event, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who joined the pair, told a reporter, “What I said in there, Northern Virginia — Virginia overall — is unbelievably important to the country. That’s why I said, ‘Send me where it’s most important for people to vote.’ They sent us here because this place is the epicenter of the political universe now and people have to get out and vote. They just have to because the future that they have depends on what happens in Virginia.”
There are many such centers of the universe, of course. But Granholm’s assertions aren’t simply hyperbole, and they may explain why a Yale graduate with a powerful father would find himself at the center of a widening vote-fraud scandal.
Additional reporting by Earl Glynn, Tori Richards and Kenric Ward. Contact Will Swaim at email@example.com.
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