Breitbart said that he would release the rest of the ACORN videos just before the November 2010 elections if Eric Holder refused to investigate ACORN. Destroying the ACORN filmmakers’ credibility lands a serious blow to the effectiveness of the videos. Perhaps Holder was listening.
It took the mainstream media a few weeks just to give the first ACORN videos even a cursory glance. Any bets on how many weeks it will take them to cover this story?
The independent filmmaker who brought ACORN to its knees last year with an undercover expose was arrested this week along with three others, including the son of a federal prosecutor, and accused of trying to interfere with the phones at Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.
The independent filmmaker who brought ACORN to its knees last year with undercover exposes was arrested this week along with three others, including the son of a federal prosecutor, and accused of trying to interfere with the phones at Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.
Federal officials did not say why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu’s phones or whether they were successful. She has been in the news recently because she negotiated an increase in Medicaid funds for her state before announcing her support for Senate health care legislation.
Calls to the cell phone of the filmmaker, James O’Keefe, were not returned, but his lawyer, Michael Madigan defended his client’s character.
“We don’t have any of the facts yet, but James O’Keefe, at heart, is a really good kid,” Madigan said in a statement to Fox News. “We are looking into this further and are awaiting hearing from James directly.”
O’Keefe, 25, already was in Landrieu’s New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office said Tuesday. Letten says O’Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.
In the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.
After handling the phone, “Flanagan and Basel next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system,” Letten’s office said.
The men were directed to another office in the building, where they’re accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.
They were arrested later by the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Details of the arrest were not available. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was also arrested, but Letten’s office said only that he assisted the others in planning, coordinating and preparing the operation.
Click here to read the affidavit.
Landrieu, a moderate Democrat, declined comment Tuesday.
“Because the details of yesterday’s incident are part of an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, our office cannot comment at this time,” Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders told Fox News.
If convicted, each suspect face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release following any prison term, according the Justice Department.
Bill Flanagan’s office confirmed his son was among those arrested, but declined further comment.
A source close to O’Keefe told Fox News that “he would not want to do anything wrong.”
O’Keefe was the brains behind a series of undercover videos which have caused major problems for ACORN — the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now — which typically has been associated with liberal causes and has been the target of Republican attacks for years. It is known for registering hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and other poor areas of the country but also has faced voter fraud allegations.
By producing undercover videos shot in ACORN offices, O’Keefe brought a firestorm of criticism that the group was helping its low-income clients break the law.
Using a hidden camera, O’Keefe, accompanied by a young woman posing as a prostitute, shot videos in various ACORN offices where staffers appeared to offer illegal tax advice and to support the misuse of public funds and illegal trafficking in children.
O’Keefe once was editor of a conservative magazine on the campus of Rutgers University in New Jersey, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.
ACORN calls itself the largest grass roots community organization of low- and moderate-income people in the country, claiming over 400,000 families, more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities.
Until the controversy last year over the videos at ACORN offices, 10 percent of ACORN’s funds came from federal government grants. In September, Congress blocked previously approved funds from going to ACORN.
Fox News’ Trish Turner, Mike Levine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.