Press Release

American Federation of Teachers and Affiliates Respond to Surge of Suspected Project Veritas Attacks

For Release: 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Oriana Korin

WASHINGTON—New evidence suggests that the conservative, anti-labor hit group run by James O’Keefe, Project Veritas, is up to its old right-wing strategy of harassing teachers and their right to organize. These attacks essentially follow the same script used on the Albuquerque Teachers Federation earlier this month, where the union believes that longtime O’Keefe sidekick Christian Hartsock used a false identity to seek information, pretending to be a teacher from Del Norte High School who had abused a student physically and with racial epithets. The individual believed to be Hartsock provided a name that was not a registered union member’s, acted strangely and was elusive with details, sparking union officials to research his identity and to notify school officials and local authorities about the likely bogus reports of abuse and the impersonation of a teacher.

Project Veritas has a long history of creating false narratives using doctored videos and refusing to allow the unedited footage to be viewed. The American Federation of Teachers has evidence of suspected intrusions on other local offices and schools around the country as well, including New York, Michigan and Ohio. Reports of suspicious activity are filtering in from affiliates daily, and the union is eager to mount a defense and consider all available legal action to protect its members and students.

The AFT is well-primed for these attacks, and is eager to let the public know about the ongoing efforts to harm and entrap public school teachers and their allies. According to Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein, “We work every day to support public school students, teachers and parents, and deep-pocketed, anti-teacher political operatives are now descending on New Mexico in an attempt to discredit our work. Child abuse and racial harassment are serious issues our school professionals train to deal with, and appropriating or exploiting them for political games is not only offensive, it does nothing to help students, parents or teachers. We will continue to stand up for our members, our students and this community against these deceitful tactics.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “For the last several weeks, teachers and other public employees, students and parents—indeed, activists of all ages, races, genders and creeds—have championed investment in and support of safe, welcoming, well-funded public schools. So it’s no surprise that when teachers are making progress in their fight for high-quality public education, it appears that Project Veritas reverts to its old playbook of deception and gotcha tactics in an attempt to discredit the very people who are fighting for our schools and keeping our children safe.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.