Grandiosity and Self-Delusion Gone Wild, O’Keefe Has the Money to be Dangerous

Project Veritas 990

Project Veritas 990

New Orleans       Vigilance knows no holiday, nonetheless I don’t want to be a bore even while I write, Paul Revere style, from door to door crying out the alarm that James O’Keefe and his copycats are dangerous to democracy and chilling the efforts of mass organization and support. I beat this drum regularly, but found myself reading Jane Mayer’s article in The New Yorker called “Sting of Myself: Amateurish spies like James O’Keefe III attempt to sway the 2016 campaign” and forced to yell “Wolf!” everywhere I can be heard. I just sent the piece out to all corners where I work in the spirit of “be prepared!”

I’ve been arguing that O’Keefe’s credibility has been shot to smithereens, but I’m making the mistake of assuming that we are living and working in a rational political environment and that is clearly my bad. Most recently, he was caught amateurishly once again while trying to scam Open Society, the George Soros foundation, when he mistakenly kept babbling on his target’s voice mail. In a more normal world that might be the final straw, but, oh, no, not with this bad penny.

O’Keefe’s dark money funders have such deep pockets that putting some bets on him is the equivalent of picking up the bar tab on major league politics like a presidential campaign and therefore a trivial matter. His misnamed, Project Veritas, which gained an IRS tax exemption for charitable and educational activity, turns out to be raking in the dough. Mayer clearly looked at his IRS Form 990 filings and found that he took in $1.2 million in 2103 and then doubled down with $2.4 million in 2014. Likely when the 2015 filings become public, he will have added to that stash as well.

Justin Bieber has a new hit about a girl where he sings, “if you like the way you look that much, Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself.” He could have written that song about O’Keefe who is on a Trump-style ego trip of self-delusion, self-promotion and grandiosity, but like Trump and Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, that doesn’t mean he’s not very dangerous, especially now that he has a bank account to fuel his pomposity.

He claims he has the money to have buried his operatives in numerous campaigns, and that’s likely true though the notion that they are at the heart of anything rather than the periphery is unlikely, but that’s OK for O’Keefe, because that his modus operandi anyway. Taking trivia from low level, public-facing staff and volunteers and trying to make political scandal mountains from molehills is his shtick. I used to advise organizers to start with lower targets in a campaign to build momentum, saying metaphorically that they should “hit the meter reader” on their way to the top in utility campaign for example, but O’Keefe never gets above the meter reader because for all his big talk about upending politics, he’s really just trying to break back into the rightwing echo chamber that still listens to his line.

So, why not ignore him, as even Glenn Beck now does? Well, because the biggest problem with O’Keefe is that his presence on the scene is chilling to real work. He breeds caution in organizations that need to be aggressive. He and his imitators still leave many organizations afraid to engage in voter registration and engagement for fear of attack and infiltration by scurrilous means and reputational damage from public attack. He forces organizations and campaigns to spend time and money in internal training and self-protection rather than pursing their objectives and doing the work. For fear of seeing these sentences quoted in an O’Keefe fundraising pitch to some conservative, billionaire zealot, I should add that increasingly organizations have tightened up to the new reality of such scammers, caulked the holes, and stepped out again, and Jane Mayer’s effective outing of O’Keefe in such a prominent publication helps inoculate opinion makers, donors, politicians and others not to fall for this stuff in the future, which acts to effectively reinsert backbones where they were starting to sag under the constant assault of similar attacks.

His day might not be quite over, but hour by hour it’s coming closer to the end.

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James O’Keefe Over the Line – Again!?!

New Orleans               I continue to be fascinated that James O’Keefe has any credibility with anyone anywhere in the world.  The list is endless from his ACORN fake costuming and scurrilous video editing to his crazed phone tapping of Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans and on to one preposterous self-aggrandizing ego trip after another including a puff piece in the New York Times magazine.  A piece popped up on my Google Alerts though that surprised me so much, I wondered if it was a hoax, given how bizarre it is even for O’Keefe.  The piece ran in Op Ed News by a Gustav Wynn.  It has been previously reported by O’Keefe’s home town paper in New Jersey and by Keith Olbermann, so some serious credibility has been attached to the piece.

At the least, suffice it to say, this dude is still totally out of control!

Sex, Drugs and Videotape: James O’Keefe Implicated in Barn Rape Plot

By: Gustavo Wynn

As reported by Keith Olbermann, Raw Story and NorthJersey.com, disturbing charges were leveled against James O’Keefe, the undercover “pimp” made famous in videos that informed a Congressional vote to defund ACORN (later ruled unconstitutional).

A conservative blogger from Tampa has reportedly shared details indicating she believes she became incapacitated and had her underwear stolen while she was in O’Keefe’s company.

Her October 2nd visit concerned a proposal to be in one of O’Keefe’s anti-Occupy Wall Street videos, says accuser Nadia Naffe – O’Keefe picked her up at the Newark train station and stopped off at a liquor store before driving her to his parents house where negotiations got contentious and O’Keefe became verbally abusive.

Naffe claims she began to have trouble controlling her muscles and threatened to call the police when she felt O’Keefe was trying to coerce her to stay. As she testified in a criminal complaint, O’Keefe demonstrated an “intent to persuade me to spend the night in the barn”. O’Keefe and a pal instead drove her to Penn Station in NYC, Naffe reported, adding she lost consciousness during the ride.

After traveling on to Boston where she attends grad school at Harvard, Naffe alleged her bag had been rifled through, with panties and other items taken. She also reports O’Keefe made an unsolicited offer of money, but began harassing her shortly after she refused the cash, through direct messages and third parties.  Continue reading

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The Right Advances; Parenthood Defunding Continues, O’Keefe Wins Tax Exemption

planned_parenthood_1West Palm Beach People are pretty excited here South Florida about the Miami Heat’s victory at least folks who actually live here, since the airports and highways seem to be swarming with folks sick of the cold country looking for warmer weather and mainly willing to memorialize the sun itself this weekend.   Add to that the fact that a Dane County judge threw out the anti-union Wisconsin law for an “open meetings” violation, and there you pretty much have the good news for the day.

But back to reality the right advances steadily, and everywhere we look.

The U.S. Supreme Court found it fine and dandy that Arizona of all places (a comic on TV last night called Arizona the “Lindsay Lohan of the states”) can put its boot up the butt of businesses in the state and punish them for hiring undocumented workers.  Speaking of Lindsay Lohan, it sounds like Sarah Palin is moving to Arizona too and has “fire in her belly,” which means that even on the darkest days, there’s still a silver lining in those clouds!

Where the strategic work of the right and the Republicans continues to pay off for them is in their systemic and strategic efforts to eviscerate the “support” institutions of progressives through defunding and extremism attacks.  Planned Parenthood may have escaped Congressional censure but is still fighting in the trenches at the state level to support the health needs of poorer women, and there the news is frightful.

USA Today summarized the on-going efforts in six states yesterday to strip Planned Parenthood of funding:

  • Indiana passed and signed a bill in mid-May that bars “any entity that performs abortions…from contracting with Medicaid to provide health and preventive care.”  There is a lawsuit, but I bet the courts will rule that Indiana can stop its own state contracts though it can’t restrict a federal contract.
  • Tennessee passed a measure in its Senate, though this is not a done deal.
  • Wisconsin (of course) approved a bill through its Joint Finance Committee to strip $1M per year, but compared to everything else Wisconsin is doing Planned Parenthood is probably not losing much sleep on this million.
  • The Texas Senate is looking a piece of legislation that has a poisoned bill in it.  If the courts allow funding to go to Planned Parenthood, then the whole program is defunded!
  • Kansas legislature passed a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood, which once again raises the issue of what they are “teaching young girls in Kansas,” as Josey Wales pointed out.
  • North Carolina also passed a budget to bar the state from giving Planned Parenthood contracts.

Planned Parenthood has lawyers and supporters and they are howling so none of this is over, until it’s really over, but the fight itself augurs poorly for the future.

Meanwhile James O’Keefe has been notified by the Internal Revenue Service that he has received tax exempt status for his vanity vehicle, Project Veritas, which he says will make it easier for him to raise money and train “an army of citizen journalists” to specialize in this kind of skullduggery and create more right wing scam-caspades!

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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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