ACORN Pimp in Landrieu Phone Plot

In a Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, activist James O'Keefe attends a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. O'Keefe was among four people arrested Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 and accused of trying to interfere with phones at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office. 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. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

James O'Keefe was among four people arrested Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 and accused of trying to interfere with phones at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

Apparently, James O’Keefe, the young man who earned fifteen minutes of fame posing as a pimp to ensnare ACORN workers has tried to do something similar with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.

The four men accused of trying to tamper with Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office phones share a common experience as young ideologues writing for conservative publications.  Federal authorities said two of the men posed as telephone workers wearing hard hats, tool belts and flourescent vests when they walked into the senator’s office inside a federal building in New Orleans on Monday. The other two were accused of helping to organize the plan.

The most well-known of the suspects is James O’Keefe, a 25-year-old whose hidden-camera expose posing as a pimp with his prostitute infuriated the liberal group ACORN and made him a darling of conservatives.

O’Keefe and suspect Joseph Basel, 24, formed their own conservative publications on their college campuses. A third suspect, Stan Dai, 24, served as editor of his university’s conservative paper and once directed a program aimed at getting college students interested in the intelligence field after 9/11. And the fourth suspect, Robert Flanagan, 24, wrote for the conservative Pelican Institute and had recently criticized Landrieu for her vote on health care legislation. O’Keefe was a featured speaker at a Pelican Institute luncheon days before his arrest. Flanagan is the son of the acting U.S. Attorney for northern Louisiana.

It’s not yet clear whether the plan was a prank intended to be captured on camera or a more serious attempt at political espionage, as claimed by state Democrats who dubbed it “Louisiana Watergate.”

We’ll soon see, I suppose, but my strong guess is the former.   In which case, they should be sentenced to a spanking, having clearly been deprived on that score over the years.

I was also slightly amused by the YahooNews headline for the story, “4 men accused of phone plot had conservative ties.”  I’m not sure what their fashion sense has to do with anything — although it’s odd that O’Keefe wasn’t wearing one of those ties in the photograph.   I should think a  nice Argyll and Sutherland Highlighlanders regimental tie would go very nicely with that jacket.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mr. Prosser says:

    Very funny comment about the ties, I’ll point it out to the literacy teachers at work today. The kid may not have been spanked enough in childhood but from the looks of him he got the crap beat out of him at least once a week at the school bus stop. Also, where did he find that jacket, the local ex-legislator’s slop chest?

  2. john personna says:

    Why would the video angle make sense? A “look at me, i’m tapping teh phones” video would only work after releasing wiretapped and incriminating audio.

    Otherwise releasing the video would be exactly like getting caught.

    So, the video defense is that they would have only tapped the phones, reviewed calls to a congressional office, presumably in which some constituents reveal private information, then chosen to release “some?”

    In order for this to be a “prank?”

  3. Dantheman says:

    I agree with john p. How does an illegal act work as a “prank”? This strikes me as more of a G. Gordon Liddy wannabe than anything else.

    Also, in light of his body of work on ACORN, how many other Senators field offices has he already bugged?

  4. James Joyner says:

    Why would the video angle make sense? A “look at me, i’m tapping teh phones” video would only work after releasing wiretapped and incriminating audio.

    Sure. But that was the MO for the ACORN tapes, too.

    But that’s not “political espionage” ala Watergate. The point there was to get intelligence to use privately, never revealing the break-in. Here, the point — presumably — would be to catch Landrieu or her people doing something embarrassing and then releasing it on the Web.

  5. john personna says:

    That sounds exactly like espionage to me James.

    If you disagree, just record all of your offices’ phone calls for a week and then post them here on the blog. Someone might then look for something “embarrassing.”

  6. Herb says:

    The jokes! You’re killing me.

    Maybe this will finally be the death knell for Jackass journalism. Or maybe these guys should hire Johnny Knoxville to do it right.

  7. I think these guys were stupid and they are now in serious trouble for what they have done, but to continue to say they were trying to tap the phones is partisan hackery at this point.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Stupid little twat’s going to end up doing federal time. A heavy price to pay for a surfeit of ideology and arrogance and a lack of common sense.

  9. Richard Gardner says:

    Patterico is mentioning that they didn’t have bugging equipment and that they may have been tryng to show Senator Landrieu’s office had their phones rigged so that constituent’s calls wouldn’t be answered.

    If a local FM radio shock jock makes a false representation, are they arrested? Ashton Kuchner? Of course, politicians and their people are a protected class, so this is different(?).

  10. James Joyner says:

    If a local FM radio shock jock makes a false representation, are they arrested? Ashton Kuchner? Of course, politicians and their people are a protected class, so this is different(?).

    It’s an interesting question. I should think their intentions would be critical in making that determination.

  11. The Other Ed says:

    Uhh yes… radio shock jocks have gotten arrested many times for their stunts. Enter “radio stunt arrested” in Google and among the 784,000 results, you’ll find dozens of individual DJ’s arrested for stunts…and those didn’t involve trying to lie your way into Federal office buildings during the age of GWOT.

    More interesting to me is whether Andrew Breitbart is going to be shown to have paid for this. He’s admitted on Hugh Hewitt’s show that O’Keefe is on the Big Government.com payroll and so far, ACORN is his website’s sole moment of glory. Was he behind this stunt?

  12. Thinking you guys are minimizing the seriousness of this a bit too much. I’d point out that in the FBI affidavit it clearly states one of the kids was caught in a car a couple of blocks away with equipment designed to pick up the phone convos. Doesn’t sound much like a harmless prank to me.

    My guess is O’Keefe is so arrogant after having succeeded in passing off the edited ACORN tapes as real, he thought he could get away with this daring daylight caper. Don’t have a link to affidavit handy but I’m sure you can find it at Talking Points Memo.

    Wondering if conservatives would take it quite so lightly and make the same excuses if some attention seeking left wing activist was caught screwing around like this in say, Boehner’s offices.

  13. sam says:

    The point there was to get intelligence to use privately, never revealing the break-in. Here, the point — presumably — would be to catch Landrieu or her people doing something embarrassing and then releasing it on the Web.

    Heh. I saw Pat Buchanan last night on Chris Matthews. I confess I have a soft spot for Pat. He seems to be one of the few right-, or left-, wing fire eaters that can actually laugh at himself. Anyway, Matthews mentioned Watergate, and Pat said he couldn’t for the life of him understand why someone would think you had to bug the DNC to get intel — those guys were shooting their mouths off all over the place. Sameo sameo, I’d think, for Landriue or her people doing something embarassing and thinking it wouldn’t get out, juvenile black bag op or not.

  14. James Joyner says:

    Thinking you guys are minimizing the seriousness of this a bit too much. I’d point out that in the FBI affidavit it clearly states one of the kids was caught in a car a couple of blocks away with equipment designed to pick up the phone convos. Doesn’t sound much like a harmless prank to me.

    I wrote very early this morning, with pretty much just the info at the link. I’m getting mixed signals since as to what the deal was.

    Certainly, I don’t take the FBI’s charges as the final word. They’re almost invariably overhyped so as to generate a plea deal for a lesser included.

  15. sam, Pat Buchanan is a bigoted lunatic, which is why Chris Matthews like to use him to represent the right. I have no further comment as to your soft spots or Chris’ tingly spots.

    Libby Spencer, of course, we don’t have to wonder what conservatives would do if some attention seeking left wing activist was caught screwing around like this, as we already John and Alice Martin for a test case on this.

  16. sam says:

    sam, Pat Buchanan is a bigoted lunatic, which is why Chris Matthews like to use him to represent the right. I have no further comment as to your soft spots or Chris’ tingly spots.

    Oh, stuff it Charles. That was an aside tangential to the main point. Jesus. Lighten TF up. Please.

  17. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  18. odograph says:

    sam, Pat Buchanan is a bigoted lunatic, which is why Chris Matthews like to use him to represent the right.

    Buchanan make it big speaking at the ’92 Republican National Convention. You might say he isn’t your kind of right, but that’s a tighter party connection than most talking heads have.