The Big Troubles of James O’Keefe and His Sponsors

james o keefeNew Orleans It turns out that just like the song says, “it’s hard on a pimp” or a “punk” or a “pretend pimp,” which turns out is the case for video-sting-man James O’Keefe and his futile attempts to “come clean” and pull off his greatest ironic caper:  boy journalist.

You know it’s a dog pile when something as staid, boring and nose-in-the-air as The Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look down at your problems, but sure enough, O’Keefe wants to make sure he gives his right-wing buddies a tax break for supporting his chicanery, so he’s applied for tax exempt 501c3 status for his paradoxically named “Project Veritas,” which used to be Latin for truth, but who knows what O’Keefe thinks it stands for.  But here’s the Chronicle’s cut:

“An attempt to visit Mr. O’Keefe at Project Veritas’s official address in Washington—2100 M Street N.W., Suite 170-241—was also unsuccessful. Suite 170 is a UPS store and No. 241 is a small mailbox that rents for $35 a month.

Project Veritas’s first step in getting an exemption is to file an application with the IRS known as Form 1023.

As part of that application process, Project Veritas must meet key requirements about how the group is organized and operated and spell out what charitable mission it will pursue.

Organizations must also prove that their assets do not unjustly enrich board members or officers and that board members do not pursue business activities unrelated to their tax-exempt purpose. Applicants must also show that they do “not engage in activities that are illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”

…Mr. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor crime after he and three others entered the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, last year pretending to be telephone repairmen.

The fact that Mr. O’Keefe has stated in public that he would do it again, albeit “differently” would probably be the biggest stumbling block to gaining charity status, said Marc Owens, a Washington tax lawyer who formerly oversaw the IRS division that monitors tax-exempt groups.

“If he is proposing to do something that is, in fact, illegal, can the IRS believe, with any degree of credibility, what he is saying?” Mr. Owens said. “Is he going to continue to enter government offices illegally? He pled guilty to it once and said he would do it again. It’s reasonable to conclude that the organization may be engaged in criminal activity in the future.””

Bottom line: They are not sure you should get tax free donations when you announce that you may break the law with the money.  Geez, they have kind of a point there.

It’s probably only a minor aggravation for O’Keefe that the student paper at his alma mater publishes a piece that says essentially they are embarrassed by him and his exploits.  The web-magazine, Colorlines has documented with frequent stories O’Keefe’s problems with race.  As they said of his New Jersey teachers scam:  “What’s perhaps most notable is that O’Keefe, once again, found a way to racialize his hit job. ” Organizations involved in racial justice or with members of a darker hue than he carries — are probably also just water off a duck’s back to him, because I’m sure he’s comfortable in his own skin and only that skin indeed!   Of course ostensibly racial bias is also the opposite of the “fundamental public policy,” which in fact should be something worth the IRS looking at when they determine whether or not to give a tax exemption to foster O’Keefe’s brand of race hate and race bait through his work and caricatures.

Michael Gaynor, a lawyer and conservative blogger, who establishes his “right” credentials by trumpeting on this twitter bio the fact that he brought the Cloward-Piven “strategy to “Glenn Beck’s attention,” which is one heckuva claim to fame, looked closely at the San Diego legal problems posed to O’Keefe and Hannah Giles “acting” as the prostitute in that ill begotten scheme, and thinks there may be big problems not only for them but for their lifeline sponsors and outlets, Andrew Brietbart and his biggovernment website and the Fox News friends:

“So, make no mistake, in Maryland, California and Pennsylvania, Ms. Giles and Mr. O’Keefe are in legal peril, even more so in California and Pennsylvania.

Given the importance of the information contained on the videos, it is not reasonably disputable that the Constitution permits BigGovernment.com and Fox News to use them, at least if they are “otherwise innocent.”

If, as reported, Mr. Breitbart serendipitously first learned of the videos when Mr. Giles brought them to his house and Fox News was not involved in the sting in any way until it reported on it, then both BigGovernment.com and Fox News were within their rights in using the videos, the Maryland statute notwithstanding.

In Bartnicki v. Volper, which involved both the federal and Pennsylvania laws against surreptitious recording, the United States Supreme Court held that a publisher who has lawfully obtained information from a source who obtained it unlawfully may not be punished by the government for the ensuing publication based on the defect in a chain.

Bottom line: BigGovernment.com and Fox News appear to be safe, because, in the words of the majority opinion in Bartnicki v. Volper, the interest in “removing an incentive for parties to intercept private conversations–does not justify applying” a statute prohibiting surreptitious recording “to an otherwise innocent disclosure of public information.”

If BigGovernment.com and/or Fox News are NOT “otherwise innocent,” then Ms Giles and Mr. O’Keefe will have company on the legal hot seat.”

O’Keefe probably needs that tax exemption to raise money to pay the settlement that may be coming his way from losing the California suit for his shenanigans.

This guy seems is a heat seeking missile heading for trouble and exploding everything around him.  The Landrieu probably seems to have taught him nothing, but been mere rocket fuel for his mischief.

Press clips may be addictive, but they don’t pay the bills, and O’Keefe is due to learn that his was no free ride.

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One thought on “The Big Troubles of James O’Keefe and His Sponsors

  1. I got an email from Michael Gaynor that had 20 or 30 questions on the subject line. Hmmm, I thought. Turned out that I made a big, fat mistake and though I correctly referenced and credited his legal speculation on the O’Keefe/Giles/Fox/BigGovernment situation, I came within a hair of defaming him by attaching a twitter bio to his name by mistake. I just got confused in the early hour. A Matthew Vadum had started following me on Twitter and his Twitter bio description was the chest thumping about feeding Glenn Beck various wild and weird information. My bad! I’ve already apologized to Gaynor, so I hope this catches the readers and brings us back to square one. Even among conservatives there are issues of fact and fantasy, which gives all of us hope for the future in my view.

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