Conservative Activist Arrested on Tampering Charges

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One of the men involved in the now-infamous sting on liberal activist group ACORN has been arrested for attempting to tamper with the offices of a Democratic senator.

James O’Keefe, 25, is an activist and filmmaker who made headlines last September by posing as a pimp while soliciting advice from the group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. O’Keefe’s undercover video, which showed ACORN employees telling him and his accomplice, who was posing as a prostitute, how to get around tax laws and hide the money earned through prostitution.

Now O’Keefe and three other men, one of whom is the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan, have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. According to an affidavit released by the FBI, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel entered the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., dressed in work gear and hardhats, and told employees there that they were telephone repairmen sent to fix the phone lines.

Instead, they “manipulated” the handset of the receptionist’s telephone, pretended to call it, and then asked for access to the main line. They were directed to the telephone closet, but were stopped by another employee, who asked to see identification. Basel and Flanagan said that they had left their credentials in their vehicle.

O’Keefe, meanwhile, was filming the pair with his cell phone. A fourth man, Stan Dai, was also arrested, but it is unclear what his role in the alleged tampering scheme was.

All of the men were later arrested by federal marshals. One of them, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was picked up in a car several blocks away with a listening device. Authorities with the FBI have not yet released details about the men’s motives or whether they were successful in their attempt to bug Landrieu’s phones.

O’Keefe and the three other men have been released on $10,000 bail. Since the sting he perpetrated on ACORN, O’Keefe has become something of a conservative hero, and he has promised to uncover scandals in other liberal organizations as well.

Landrieu was not in her office at the time of the incident. She had recently made news for having negotiated extra Medicaid funds for Louisiana, shortly before announcing her support for Senate healthcare legislation.

The charges faced by the four men could result in up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

 

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