Curtis’ stance on abortion challenged in campaign worker’s Project Veritas video

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, speaks to reporters during a summit at the Malouf Foundation in Logan on April 17, 2021. Curtis’ position on the state’s “trigger law” on abortion has came into question on Tuesday as a far-right investigative journalism agency captured an alleged member of the Republican congressman’s campaign saying he is “remaining silent” about his beliefs to keep votes going. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

Estimated reading time: 6-7 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Rep. John Curtis’ stance on the state’s abortion “trigger law” came into question on Tuesday as an extreme investigative journalism agency right captured an alleged member of the Republican congressman’s campaign saying that Curtis was “staying silent” about his beliefs. maintain the voices.

But Curtis’ campaign alleges his opponent is behind the group targeting his campaign.

Abortion ban ‘trigger law’

Utah’s trigger law would go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

SB174 would ban abortions in most cases, but it allows exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger, if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if two physicians who practice “medicine fetomaternal” both determine that the fetus has a severe defect that is uniformly diagnosable and ultimately fatal.

The Veritas Project Report — which is circulating on social media — shows a conversation between an undercover reporter posing as a campaign volunteer and Daniel Stephens, field manager for Curtis’ Provo campaign.

Project Veritas, founded by activist James O’Keefe, has been criticized in the past for its use of deceptively edited videos and undercover operations to entrap or embarrass politicians or media organizations. The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for expose the group’s attempt to deceive the Post writing about a fake victim, which is among other examples in the band’s history of using deception and out-of-context quotes to support right-wing causes.

Curtis is running for re-election in Utah’s 3rd congressional district and is opposed in the Republican primary by Chris Herrod.

According Stephens LinkedIn Profilehe has worked on the Curtis campaign since January.

“He doesn’t like trigger laws. He didn’t say it, that’s the problem,” Stephens said of Curtis in the video.

Asked by the undercover reporter why Curtis can’t say he opposes the Trigger Law, Stephens said: “He’s not going to win. People think we’re a RINO (Republican in name only), and people think we’re an establishment curator.”

The five-minute video is taken from a low angle, and Stephens’ face is somewhat obscured by light from a window behind him.

Curtis denies the allegations

On Wednesday after the video was released, Curtis’ team sent a statement from Curtis released last month in which he expressed dismay at the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion on Roe v. Wade and said he would “welcome a decision overturning Roe v. Wade.”

“Assuming an eventual decision is consistent with this draft, I find cause for celebration. As someone who lived through the five decades of Roe v. Wade, I cannot begin to imagine the totality of the suffering and unspoken cries of the unborn child during this time,” Curtis said in the statement.

He added that he and his wife “mourned the loss of not only the unborn child, but also their unrealized contributions to our world.”

“I would welcome a decision overturning Roe v. Wade and trust lawmakers at all levels of government to pass legislation consistent with their values, which I believe should include the preservation of life,” Curtis said in the press release.

In a statement provided to KSL.com, his campaign spokeswoman Adrielle Herring said Curtis’ voting record “still stands conservative,” and she claimed he had been “pro-life through and through.” end”.

She added that Utah’s trigger law “aligns” with Curtis’ values ​​and “he believes its provisions are appropriate to preserve life.”

Herring further accused Curtis opponent Herrod of “flying to (Washington), D.C. to recruit dishonest organizations to come to Utah and tell Utahns how to vote” and asked him to “stop to bring the swamp to Utah”. She noted that this year marks Herrod’s third run against Curtis for the job.

Herring and another spokesperson did not respond to questions about Stephens’ status in the campaign.

KSL.com reached out to Herrod for comment on Curtis’ campaign claims.

Campaign agent resigns after video

When asked how Curtis maintains his image, Stephens replies in the video, “He stays quiet.”

The campaign worker goes on to say that Curtis switched parties shortly before the 2017 election in order to run as a Republican.

According to reports, Curtis actually reregistered as a Republican in 2006. Curtis, who was previously mayor of Provo, said he switched parties in 2000 to run for a state Senate seat as a Democrat to counter “one-party dominance.” Curtis also served as chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party for one year from 2002 to 2003.

When asked why Curtis switched parties, Stephens said Curtis “saw that it was inefficient to be a Democrat in Utah Valley or Utah County.” Stephens further states that voters in the area are “not ready to do the research, they want it to be easy”.

Several times in the video, the undercover reporter asks leading questions, such as, “So we can manipulate this and use it to win. Do you think people in Utah really notice his policies if he’s a Republican? checked in ?”

“The idealistic part of me wants to say yes, but I know, no,” Stephens says in the video.

Stephens later shares his personal opinion on the trigger law, calling it “restrictive”.

“I don’t think that solves the problems. I think you’re going to come across a lot more unhealthy, marginalized communities that are receiving unproductive care,” he said.

Stephens adds that Curtis “doesn’t like trigger laws”, but when asked if Curtis said that, Stephens said no.

“I don’t usually share that with people,” Stephens said at one point during the recording.

In a press release, Project Veritas notes that he then showed the video to Stephens, in person, in Provo. In a video of this interaction between Project Veritas founder O’Keefe and Stephens, Stephens says the original video is “completely taken out of context.”

He also criticizes Project Veritas’ method of sending a reporter posing as a volunteer, as well as the leading questions asked by the reporter. Stephens also wonders why Project Veritas didn’t include parts of the video that showed him praising Curtis’ work in Congress.

“I’m a 24-year-old who works for a campaign, a field manager, someone who passes out signs, someone who is in charge of the campaign, who makes sure grassroots efforts are moving forward , and you think my comments are exactly what the politician believes,” Stephens said.

But after seeing snippets of the original video, Stephens said, “It’s a shame I said that. I think it was, you know, bad of me. Unfortunately, it associates Congressman John Curtis has a negative image, and that’s on me.”

Stephens then called a campaign manager and tendered his resignation via video. Campaign manager Adrielle Herrings tells O’Keefe that Stephens is not a campaign spokesperson but refuses to speak to O’Keefe in person, according to the video.

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Ashley Imlay covers state politics and breaking news for KSL.com. A lifelong Utahn, Ashley also worked as a reporter for the Deseret News and is a graduate of Dixie State University.

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