Fox News is quite beside themselves over it, beseeching everyone to wait for context. Because surely there must be some reasonable explanation for O'Keefe to be in Senator Mary Landrieu's office poised with his finger on the phone video button while two 'workmen' (one of whom is the son of Acting US Attorney Bill Flanagan) paid a visit to the phone system under the pretense of 'repairing' it.
Here's some context: James O'Keefe was the architect of the much-ballyhooed ACORN sting back in September. That was the sting that caught a couple of ACORN employees engaging in some pretty bad judgment calls, did irreparable harm to the ACORN brand, causing Congress to defund them only to have the Supreme Court call that defunding unconstitutional. That James O'Keefe. The young real-time wired darling of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart. (I thought about linking you to the story but I know how Uncle Rupert feels about the whole linky thing, so you should probably just Google it if you don't remember.)
Anyway, according to reports, here's what happened:
O'Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu's New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. Letten says O'Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.
Once inside 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, 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.
Well, this is quite a development. It certainly sounds like O'Keefe was pulling a page right out of the Nixon playbook with this one, because I guess resigning in disgrace is somehow a badge of honor in Republican-land?
Snark aside, assuming these allegations are true, they point to just how low the right wingers will sink to disenfranchise voters. The choice to try to disenfranchise voters in Louisiana and hopefully somehow catch Landrieu in an act at the same time is just more evidence of their cynical sliminess.
I'll wait to see how things unfold because I actually believe in the presumption of innocence and the Constitution, but right now, things are looking like they could be ugly. According to the FBI press release, they're looking at some hard time:
If convicted, FLANAGAN, BASEL, O’KEEFE, and DAI each face a maximum term of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
UPDATE: I was curious about Stan Dai, started doing a bit of searching and came across some of the same information this person found. If this is the same Stan Dai, he has a weird idea about what "defending democracy" is all about.Democratic Underground