News & Politics

ACORN Smear Journalist Arrested for Alleged Attempt to Bug Sen. Mary Landrieu's Office

Four young right-wing activists were arrested by Federal marshals for attempting to bug the Louisiana Senator's office.

James O’Keefe, the young right-wing activist who posed as a pimp to “break” the ACORN “scandal,” has been arrested by the FBI, along with three alleged accomplices, for attempting to bug the New Orleans offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). 

According to a federal affidavit, O’Keefe, along with Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24 years of age, entered the federal building on Monday dressed as telephone company repairmen. According to the Times-Picayune, O’Keefe had entered the office and told a staffer that he was waiting for someone else to arrive. The three other men wore “jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats.”  

By accounts, it was a clownish operation. Basel and Flanagan said they were there to repair a phone problem, gained access to the phone system, and were caught when they told a General Services Administration employee that they’d left their credentials in the car. According to the Times-Picayune, O’Keefe attempted to record the entire incident on his cell phone. 

According to Talking Points Memo, Flanagan is the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan.    

Last September, O’Keefe and an associate, Hannah Giles, posed as a pimp and a prostitute -- or what conservative college students believe pimps and prostitutes look like -- and recorded themselves asking workers for ACORN, a group that advocates for the poor, how to set up shop in the community. Several low-level ACORN employees took the bait, and the resulting video became a sensation on Fox news and conservative blogs.  

ACORN fired the staffers, but conservatives in Congress used the scandal to pass the Defund ACORN Act, which a Federal judge declared unconstitutional in December

That “investigation” was made famous by Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, a prominent right-wing blog. Reached by Talking Points Memo for comment,. Breitbart said: "I need to find information on this. I'm out of the loop on this. I will make my determination then on when to comment." 

While the gotcha video on ACORN made O’Keefe and Giles stars of the right, the alleged attempt to bug a sitting United States Senator’s office is hardly a prank. The four men are charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.


Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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