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Video creates doubt surrounding Curtis’ stance on abortion ban

By Kelcie Hartley - | Jun 23, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Rep. John Curtis, left, speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022, as Chris Herrod listens.

Questions began to swirl Tuesday evening around Utah’s Third Congressional District after a video was released by Project Veritas Action, a right-wing organization known for undercover video recordings, questioning Rep. John Curtis’s stance on abortion.

The video, approximately five minutes long, included an interview with the incumbent’s field director, Daniel Stephens. According to his LinkedIn page, Stephens worked for the Curtis campaign beginning in January 2022 and as field director starting in March.

The video showed clips of Stephens making several questionable statements about Curtis, namely that he doesn’t support Utah’s trigger law which would nearly ban abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

PVA posted the video to several social media sites. One of the first posts was on Instagram at 5:22 p.m. News traveled fast as Herrod responded to the video on his own Twitter account at 5:34 p.m. with the caption “@CurtisUT care to explain?” along with a link to PVA’s Instagram video.

In an interview with the Daily Herald, Herrod said he became aware of the video when someone in his campaign office texted it to him.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Candidate Chris Herrod speaks during the 3rd Congressional District debate at Brigham Young University on Friday, May 27, 2022.

“Within minutes I had dozens of texts like this,” Herrod said.

He wasn’t surprised by the context of the PVA video and said this was what he’s been trying to show the public throughout his campaign.

“It greatly saddens me that the Curtis campaign would treat the constituents of Utah like that,” Herrod said. “Unfortunately, this is how many of us know that John has behaved for the last five years. I have a long experience with John, and he would tell one group of delegates one thing and a different group another. It’s not just the issue of abortion. He’s done this with the climate change. You can’t continue to play both sides of an issue, and that’s what frustrates me.”

PVA released a second video Wednesday morning, showing founder James O’Keefe talking with Stephens. This, too, was quickly shared by Herrod within minutes of being posted online.

The narrative in the second video was significantly different from the first. Throughout the entire video, Stephens claims PVA took his quotes out of context and edited them to give Curtis a negative narrative.

During the conversation with O’Keefe, Stephens gave a verbal resignation over a phone call to Curtis’ campaign manager, Adrielle Herrings, who did not accept his resignation. Her response to O’Keefe was that Stephens was not a spokesperson for Curtis.

In an interview with the Daily Herald, Herrings said Stephens offered his resignation under pressure from PVA.

“He reiterated it later when PVA was gone,” Herrings said. “PVA is a slimy organization. They don’t seem to care about John’s positions. They are focused on finding out if I’ve accepted Daniel’s resignation or fired him. They are on a power trip. What kind of a grown man derives a sense of power from setting up a young staffer who is working on his first campaign, strategically slicing video to sully the young man’s reputation, and then getting the young staffer fired? This isn’t respectable reporting. They are drama queens.”

Herring also wanted to set the record straight that Curtis is pro-life.

“His statements consistently reflect his support for the preservation of life,” she said. “Congressman Curtis would welcome a SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade and agrees that the question should be decided by states. In particular, Utah’s trigger law aligns with Congressman Curtis’s values, and he believes its provisions are appropriate to preserve life.”

Herrings said she believes Herrod was connected with PVA and with their interest in Curtis just a week before the primary election concludes on Tuesday. Herrod told the Daily Herald he has not had any contact with PVA, and his only knowledge of them was from national shows.

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