MADISON, Wis. – U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold once declared that he was “one of the true leaders in fighting for a greater right to bear arms.”
Feingold, who is running to take back the seat he lost to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was unwittingly caught in the latest undercover report by O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, the controversial, smash mouth journalism firm that has exposed the alleged misconduct of many a politician and liberal activist.
In the video, Feingold is referring to an executive order on gun control Clinton would sign should she be elected next month, according to O’Keefe. Apparently, Clinton would issue an executive order involving the so-called “gun show loophole” and another imposing liability on gun manufacturers.
“He (President Barack Obama) did some executive orders with the aspects of waiting periods. But what we all need to win is the Senate, have her (Clinton) there (in the White House), and then put pressure on the House. And we might win the House,” Feingold tells O’Keefe.
Feingold was the guest of honor at an Aug. 17 private fundraiser for the Senate candidate. The cocktail party was held at the posh Palo Alto, Calif., home of liberal heavyweights Amy Rao and her husband Harry Plant, tech executives in California’s Silicon Valley.
Donations were going for $2,700 for the biggest of big-ticket donors to Feingold’s campaign, and $500 for less generous contributors. The California fundraiser completely shatters the godfather of campaign finance reform’s long-forgotten pledgeto not take big money from outside Wisconsin.
But it’s this sometimes Second Amendment defender’s seemingly insider view on Clinton’s gun control plans that’s on full display in the O’Keefe video.
In the video, O’Keefe notes an Oct. 4, 2015 email by Clinton campaign press secretaryBrian Fallon indicating the presidential candidate is all in on unilateral gun-control measures. The email was included in a Wikileaks release of thousands of Clinton-related communications.
“Circling back around on guns as a follow-up to the Friday morning discussion: the Today Show has indicated they definitely plan to ask about guns, and so to have the discussion be more of a news event than her previous times discussing guns,” Fallon wrote. “We are going to background reporters tonight on a few of the specific proposals she would support as president – universal background checks of course, but also closing the gun show loophole by Executive Order and imposing manufacture liability.”
In the video, O’Keefe, looking the part of a younger Bill Gates double (bad haircut wig, horned-rim glasses, charcoal sport coat, sans tie) asks Feingold about guns in Wisconsin, a state that takes the Second Amendment very seriously.
“But what I do is, I go with the majority view of the people of the state, which is very common sense,” Feingold says in the video. “They believe there should be background checks. Overwhelmingly, they believe there should be background checks for the Internet and for gun shows.”
The Feingold campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Marquette University Law School poll in January found 63 percent of registered Wisconsin voters supported the state’s concealed-carry law.
The same poll found 85 percent of registered voters in favor of background checks for private and gun show sales, with 12 percent opposed.
Feingold certainly could have been preaching to the choir at a Northern California mixer where he accepted big checks from some of the most anti-gun people in America.
“If we can get guns away from everyone in this country, (Hillary) will close the loopholes, get rid of assault weapons. She’ll get rid of being able to buy, you know, unlimited bullets. She’s going to make all of that stop,” fundraiser co-host Amy Rao tells O’Keefe in the video.
O’Keefe plays the part of a Bay Area gun hater, asking Feingold donor Leah Russin why Feingold would defend handguns.
“He wants to be elected. He is from Wisconsin,” says Russin, executive director and co-founder of grassroots advocacy group Vaccinate California. Russin previously served as senior advisor in the Obama administration’s Department of the Interior and environmental adviser to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
In the video, Russin seems to lament Feingold’s mixed record on gun control.
“I wanted him to be stronger. No one needs a frickin handgun,” she says.
Earlier this year, Feingold criticized his incumbent opponent, telling the Wisconsin State Journal that Johnson just does the bidding of the National Rifle Association.
“People deserve an independent voice on this issue, and that’s what I provide,” he told the newspaper.
He’s been a supporter of background checks, but he also voted against extending the federal assault-weapons ban.
Asked about the context of the video, O’Keefe, who has been accused of selective editing, said the “video speaks for itself.” He said he didn’t break any laws, that he attended the fundraiser legally.
“Everyone in that room is against the Second Amendment so it may be a slight bit of him (Feingold) trying to appeal to those folks,” O’Keefe told Wisconsin Watchdog.
The undercover journalist said Feingold will have to answer to the voters of Wisconsin, a very “pro-gun state.”
“What would those voters have to say about him cocktailing with San Francisco leftists? What do they think about their angel (senate candidate) at a cocktail party with people giving him money in support of issuing an executive order to diminish the Second Amendment?”