Editor’s note: This report was updated to reflect comments from the Ross and Burr campaigns.
A video from Project Veritas Action shows a Democratic donor, who has given money to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among other Democrats, comparing African-American Republican voters to Jews who helped the Nazis during World War II.
The donor, academic Benjamin Barber, made the comments to a reporter during a fundraiser attended by North Carolina U.S. Senate nominee Deborah Ross on Sept. 19 in New York City. Ross is running against two-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican.
“Have you heard of Sonderkommandos?” Barber asks.
“So there were even Jews that were helping the Nazis murder Jews!” he says in the video. The dialogue was also recounted in a news release from PVA, a self-described investigative reporting organization that has released other surreptitiously obtained videos of candidates, office-holders, and government employees.
James O’Keefe, who founded PVA, released his findings during a news conference Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Raleigh. He has called on Ross to renounce the statements and return the money to Barber.
In an email, Ross press secretary Cole Leiter said, “The campaign will donate the $200 we received from Mr. Barber to the North Carolina Disaster Relief fund to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew.”
Separately, Burr N.C. campaign spokeman Jesse Hunt said, “Deborah Ross should immediately denounce [this] disturbing, racially charged rhetoric.”
O’Keefe’s video comes after Burr told a group of volunteers that, when seeing Clinton on the cover of a magazine on a counter in a gun shop, he was surprised a bullseye wasn’t superimposed over her face. Burr since has apologized for the comment.
In the PVA release, Barber asks, “So blacks who are helping the other side are seriously f***ed in the head. … They’re only helping the enemy who will destroy them. Maybe they think, ‘if I help them we’ll get along OK; somehow I’ll save my race by working with the murderers.’”
The reporter, who O’Keefe would not name, obtained the comments using a hidden camera and a concealed microphone. O’Keefe would reveal neither the method nor the techniques the reporter used the obtain the footage.
Ross was in the room, as were about 40 others, says PVA.
“They were in the same room,” O’Keefe says. “I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’ll let the videotape speak for itself.”
But it’s unclear whether Ross heard the comments. Ross appears in the video addressing the issue of voter IDs, saying blacks may be less likely to vote because they’re also less likely to have identification.
O’Keefe says he broke no laws or did nothing illegal in recording the comments and producing the video, which lasts about seven minutes and according to O’Keefe was unedited.
Barber, a political theorist, is the first Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Fordham School of Law’s Urban Consortium and the president and author of If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities (Yale University Press), according to a biography on the website benjaminbarber.org. He also is Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Rutgers University.
Barber, according to FEC filings, has donated $16,697 to politicians and political groups since 1999, including Clinton, Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic National Committee.
He has donated to Republicans, as well.
In 2011, for instance, he gave money the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. In 1999 he gave money to John McCain, who was running for president. Still, most of the donations, typically for $250, went to Democrats.
Bishop Patrick Wooden of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh says he is appalled and incensed by the comments.
He says Ross has shown her true colors and should be “called to task.” Other African-American Republicans interviewed as part of the video called the comments insulting, racist, evil, and venomous.