New Orleans James O’Keefe is a bad penny that just keeps turning up every time there’s an election these days or some opportunity for him to insert himself into another ridiculous, if not illegal, scam. O’Keefe is a convicted criminal in 2010 for his role along with several confederates in trying to bug the local New Orleans office of former Senator Mary Landrieu on a fantasy claim that her staff was not answering the phone for calls about the Affordable Care Act. O’Keefe made his name for his falsely edited videos targeting ACORN’s housing operation, triggering widespread Congressional and other conservative attacks on the organization. Now reporters with the Washington Post have busted O’Keefe and his operatives trying to lure them into a “fake news” scam as he tries to help embattled senatorial candidate in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore.
This time he had a woman named Jamie Phillips contact Post reporters in the wake of reports of Moore’s molestation of a 14 year old when he was in his 30s. Phillips claimed to reporters that she had a secret sexual relationship with Moore in more recent decades, and he had impregnated her when she was 15 and took her to Mississippi for an abortion. She claimed she only wanted to come forward if the reporters could guarantee it would eliminate Moore from the race. They repeatedly told her that they could offer no such guarantees and insisted that they would have to fact check her story. She continually tried to get the reporters to offer their opinions on Moore and the Alabama election, which they also refused to do.
Over a two-week investigation, the Post became increasingly skeptical of her story. They found a GoFundMe site in her name where she indicated that, having lost her job working as a mortgage broker, she was joining a conservative outfit to expose media problems. They discounted the story she told about her cellphone and other inconsistencies, like her claim of a current employer who had no record of her work. They then realized that where she had moved in the New York New Jersey area was only 16 miles away from the O’Keefe’s Project Veritas headquarters. They also found a fairly recent job positing by Veritas to hire a dozen agents of sorts to do the kind of thing that Phillips might be doing. They began following her. They organized another meeting with her. The reporter was careful to block her purse on the table with her own purse so she could not be filmed. They confronted her with the information from the GoFundMe site. She claimed she had interviewed with the Daily Caller, but it had not worked out. The Post contacted numerous people at the Caller and no one with her name or the alias she gave had been interviewed by them. The Post reporter had their own videographers recording the meeting, and then told her the meeting was being filmed and recorded, ending the meeting.
In a final coup d’ grace, two other reporters ended up following her and she was observed going into the Veritas offices for over an hour with her car in the parking lot. Turning the tables, they also tried to interview O’Keefe as he left the building about his connections to this mess, where he refused to be interviewed and obfuscated.
Once again, O’Keefe and his methods have been exposed and thoroughly discredited. In the past, I’ve thought each time his absurd projects have been exposed that it had to be the end for him and his tactics, but instead he has raised millions for Veritas now that it has tax-exempt status (though barred from raising money in Mississippi and Utah because of O’Keefe’s criminal record). With Steve Bannon back at Breitbart, O’Keefe has a waiting outlet for his mischief, so no matter how embarrassing or inept, or how many times his stings backfire, I no longer predict his demise in these politically polarized times where people believe what they want to believe, no matter how preposterous, even when proven to be a total falsehood, and blame the messenger, if it’s not their own, no matter the ridiculousness of the message, or how ill gotten it was obtained.
In a politics without principles, O’Keefe can still aspire to be a prince.