“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” —Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh
James Fortune is an ardent follower of Hanh, practicing meditation with the Community of Mindfulness New York Metro. So Fortune should have known that his undercover attempts to infiltrate several voter education organizations in North Carolina would, as his spiritual guru advised, bear his signature.
Fortune is actually James Lalino. Employees with Democracy North Carolina and Fortaleza, both of whom met with Fortune in person, reviewed photos from publicly available online sources shared with Policy Watch; the groups confirmed Fortune and Lalino are the same person.
And according to The Daily Beast, which named Lalino today, the 34-year-old New Yorker is involved in Project Veritas, citing internal documents and sources close to the group, and bears the code name “Lefty.”
Project Veritas was founded in 2010 by far-right activist James O’Keefe. The group’s operatives routinely ambush Democratic and progressive candidates and organizations, and secretly record them to try to entrap them in breaking election law. Project Veritas often selectively edits video and audio to try to bolster unsupported allegations.
Most recently, Project Veritas claimed to have uncovered a ballot harvesting operation in Minnesota on behalf of Rep. Ilhan Omar, but has produced no evidence.
Entrapment appears to be Lalino’s motive when he began making odd inquiries of nonpartisan voter education groups in North Carolina. Policy Watch reported last month that Lalino, through his “business partner,” Blue Sky Med Labs based in Georgia, had wired $4,500 to Democracy North Carolina.
The attorney for Blue Sky Med Labs is Stefan Passantino, former deputy White House counsel for President Donald Trump, Policy Watch reported. Passantino is now running a pro-Trump organization preparing for the possibility of a contested election.
But Lalino’s behavior and line of questioning seemed awkward; he lives in New York City but claimed to be opening a gym in North Carolina, even though at the time all fitness facilities were closed because of COVID-19.
After an ill-fated deep-sea fishing trip with an employee of Democracy North Carolina, which he spent vomiting and sleeping, he cut off all contact with the group.
Lalino served on the board of directors of the Gertrude & Morrison West Side Republican Club, according to a cached version of its website. His bio said that Lalino “became a Republican at the age of 25 when he realized that progressive policies lead to social decay. It was at that time that he began devoting his spare time to learning the issues and arming himself with the facts.”
His name has been recently removed from the site.
In 2018, Lalino received one write-in vote in the 2018 race for District 67 in the New York State Assembly. Democratic incumbent Linda Rosenthal won the election.
Lalino’s his bio on the Community Mindfulness website says that he is a “veteran film industry lighting technician by day and political communications upstart by night.”
On IMDb, Lalino is credited with working as a best boy on two films, including Now You See Me. The 2013 movie centers on an “FBI agent and an Interpol detective tracking a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances, and reward their audiences with the money.”