A new video by James O’Keefe III — the undercover journalist who first came to fame when he took down Acorn — shows a federal employee bragging about how he uses he work hours to conduct business for the Democratic Socialists of America. The employee, Stuart Karaffa, talked at length to members of O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas” over a pint of beer. You can watch the full video here.
Karaffa boasted that the State Department turns a blind eye to his activities and that he can never be fired because he works for the federal government. And, possibly slurring his words slightly, Karaffa said that he spends all day — from 8:30 to 5:30 — working to further the Democratic Socialist cause.
Here’s what you need to know about Stuart Karaffa:
1. Karaffa is a Management and Program Analyst for the State Department
Karaffa has been in his current position — management and program analyst at the State Department — since August 2016. He describes himself on his LinkedIn page as a “government professional with experience in online communications, federal contract administration, policy advising, legislative analysis, project management, and data governance.”
On the Project Veritas video, Karaffa, seemed disappointed about the turn his job had taken. He said that he was working on a great project — “shining sunlight in all the right places” — but that the funding was cut suddenly, leaving him with nothing to do all day. That’s when he started using his working hours to focus on Democratic Socialist projects.
Before coming to the State Department, Karaffa worked for the Department of Defense for just over five years as a Systems Integration Analyst. Karaffa holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Washington University and a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champlain, where he was a member of the Acacia Fraternity.
2. Last Year, the Democratic Socialists Listed Karaffa As Their Contact Person in Their Get-Out-The-Vote Effort
James O’Keefe noted that even before his video of Karaffa surfaced, the Democratic Socialsts got wind of what he was planning. They responded — O’Keefe says — by doubling down on protections to all of their websites and servers.
But some older DSA documents are still available. In 2017, the Democratic Socialist chapter in DC was throwing its energy behind the campaign of Lee Carter, a young, former marine who ran successfully for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. You can read more about him here.
DSA materials list Stuart Karaffa as a key contact person in the get-out-the-vote effort for the Lee Carter campaign. The November 2, 2017 issue of DC Socialist says, “Our primary focus right now is getting out the vote for Lee. Please feel free to contact Stuart Karaffa (email@example.com) or Brandon Hinke (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.” You can see the full issue here.
3. Karaffa Helped Organize Meet-Ups to Campaign for DSA Candidates
Karaffa was listed as a contact person for the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America as recently as last year. (The group may have tightened their privacy settings since O’Keefe’s video was released.)
The Meet-Up held an event on September 30, 2017; the event’s description reads, “Help elect democratic socialists into office! Come canvass with DSA Nova Branch and members throughout the chapter as we fight to make Virginia friendly to workers. All are welcome! After finishing our packets, we’ll meet for dinner and drinks in Arlington.”
Karaffa, along with another man, is listed as the group’s contact person.
4. Karaffa is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Mount Pleasant, One of the Most Rapidly Gentrifying Neighborhoods in the Nation
Karaffa is originally from a suburb of Chicago. He moved to Washington DC eight years ago, and has lived in the DC neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Eastern Market, and Bloomingdale. He’s lived in Mount Pleasant, a neighborhood in the north of the city, for just over three years.
Curbed DC says that Mount Pleasant home values skyrocketed by 146 percent between 2000 and 2016. During the same time period, household income grew by 48 percent and higher education levels changed by 84 percent. Those figures indicate a level of gentrification which, Curbed says, makes the neighborhood one of the most rapidly changing in the country.
Karaffa was recently elected an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Mount Pleasant. He says he believes in “ensuring that Mount Pleasant remains an inclusive, vibrant, and walkable community for all residents.”
5. James O’Keefe Says Karaffa May Be Violating the Hatch Act
The Hatch Act was originally enacted by Congress in 1939, in an effort to reign in possible government corruption and prevent government employees from having too much power. The act was sponsored by Senator Carl Hatch, of New Mexico, who was angry that — he said — Works Progress Administration officials were using their time to lobby for votes.
The Hatch Act puts strict limits on the political activities that government employees can engage in. It also limits the size of their campaign contributions. The Hatch Act says, among other things, that a government employee:
“May not engage in political activity while on duty, in the workplace, wearing a uniform or official insignia, or in a government vehicle. For example:
o May not wear, display, or distribute partisan
materials or items.
o May not perform campaign-related chores.
o May not make political contributions.
o May not use email or social media to engage in
You can read the government’s own list of actitivities permitted and forbidden under the Hatch Act here.