The potential donation that arrived at an Arizona campaign office Thursday had all the markings of a grass-roots, feel-good politics story — at first.
Two young men, who said their names were Jose Rosales and Ahmahd Sadia, had shown up at the Flagstaff campaign office of Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat who is running for reelection to represent northern Arizona.
They claimed they were from nearby Northern Arizona University and were eager to volunteer. They had also brought along a jar of small bills and coins — totaling $39.68 — money that they said wanted to donate to O’Halleran’s campaign.
That’s when things grew odd.
A junior staffer who “didn’t realize what was happening” directed the pair to fill out a campaign contribution form. The men mentioned they were with the “Northern Arizona University Communist Party,” according to O’Halleran campaign manager Ryan Mulcahy.
“Once they filled out the forms, they became oddly insistent on getting a receipt for the contributions,” Mulcahy told The Washington Post. “They were told the only way you can get a receipt is [by] email. So they ended up crossing out the email they had written down and writing in another one.”
Meanwhile, as the men were leaving, another staffer came over — and recognized them from social media as being affiliated with the Arizona Republican Party, Mulcahy said. Shortly after the pair left, O’Halleran’s finance director, Lindsay Coleman, drove over to the local Arizona GOP office to return the donation.
Her suspicions were almost immediately confirmed upon entering the GOP office, in an awkward exchange that was captured on video.