Espionage and Tampering as Activism?

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Update January 30, 2010: High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur, The New York Times

ACORN foe: Phone scheme meant to embarrass senator
by Michael Kunzelman and Brett J. Blackledge
January 29, 2009

New Orleans (AP) — A conservative activist accused of trying to tamper with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones said he and three others charged in the incident wanted to investigate complaints that constituents calling her office couldn’t get through.

“On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building,” James O’Keefe wrote Friday on the Web site

Landrieu’s spokesman called his explanation “feeble.”

O’Keefe, known nationally for hidden-camera videos targeting the community-organizing group ACORN, said he believes it’s clear he and others weren’t trying to wiretap or shut down Landrieu’s phones in her office in a New Orleans federal building.

He said the four, including two who posed as telephone repairmen, wanted to investigate criticisms that people Landrieu represents could not reach her office by phone.

“I learned from a number of sources that many of Sen. Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the health care bill,” O’Keefe said in the statement.

“I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for ‘weeks’ because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Sen. Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.”

Some have criticized Landrieu for supporting a Senate health care reform plan and striking a deal to secure a Medicaid provision with an estimated value of as much as $365 million for Louisiana. The provision was meant to address what state officials, Republican and Democrat, agree is a problem: Louisiana faces what they say are unfair cuts in Medicaid based on state income figures temporarily inflated as money flowed into the state following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Landrieu said through a spokesman Friday that she wants to see the outcome of the federal investigation.

“It is obvious to anyone following this case that James O’Keefe crossed the line and Sen. Landrieu expects a thorough federal investigation into the matter,” spokesman Rob Sawicki said. “She believes that he should save his feeble explanation for the FBI and the judge.”

Read the rest of the article here.

photo: AP

Related links:

  • Activist Offers Justification for Tampering in Senate Office, New York Times
  • James O’Keefe ARRESTED In Mary Landrieu Phone Scheme, 3 Others Also Charged
  • Wikipedia on James O’Keefe III
  • ACORN sting ‘pimp’ is N.J. man who attended Rutgers University,