By Mike Lillis - 10/25/12 08:31 PM EDT
Police in Arlington County, Va., have launched a criminal probe to investigate the voter fraud controversy swirling around the son of Democratic Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Less than 24 hours after the video's release, Arlington County investigators announced that they're looking into the matter.
"The Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Arlington County Police Department have been made aware of a video released yesterday allegedly depicting Patrick Moran, former Director of Field Operations for the Jim Moran for Congress campaign organization, assisting another to vote illegally," police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said Thursday afternoon in a statement.
"The Arlington County Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation of this matter."
Released Wednesday by Project Veritas — a conservative organization headed by the Republican activist James O’Keefe — the video showed Patrick Moran perusing ways to help a man he thought was a campaign volunteer cast ballots on behalf of 100 people the operative said weren't planning to vote.
"There will be a lot of voter protection, so, if they just have, you know, the utility bill or bank statement — bank statement would obviously be tough ... but faking a utility bill would be easy enough," Moran says in the video.
Patrick Moran issued a statement addressing the controversy, saying that "at no point" did he believe the purported volunteer was serious.
“He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him," he said, according to reports. "In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.”
Rep. Moran's campaign issued the following statement:
"Our campaign welcomes a thorough investigation and we will fully cooperate. The incident involving Patrick was an unfortunate situation. While clearly lacking good judgment, Patrick's unsolicited interaction with a right wing political operative seeking to trap him in a damaging conversation did not constitute an unlawful action. We are confident this unwelcome chapter in the campaign will be quickly and favorably closed."
The candidate and father also commented.
“I don’t condone the actions of the right wing organization in question, but I recognize that this incident is teaching Patrick a tough lesson early in life. I know that my son's intention was to deflect the line of questioning by this trained political operative bent on goading him into a specific response," Rep. Moran said. “But the fact remains that the conversation drifted into discussions that reflected a serious error in judgment that Patrick wishes he could take back.
“In life, if we learn from our mistakes, we move forward stronger, wiser, and committed to ensuring they are not repeated. I know Patrick will come out of this tough situation a better man for it,” Moran said.
Sternbeck told The Hill that police will "start with the individuals who made the video and go from there" as they conduct the investigation.
Sternbeck said there's no indication, at this early stage in the investigation, that the fraud allegations reach beyond Patrick Moran. He also said it's too early to say how long the probe might take.
Rep. Jim Moran is seeking reelection to Virginia's 8th district.
Updated at 7:20 p.m.