Once Again O’Keefe Amateur Hour Antics Busted, This Time by Washington Post

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.

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“Rigged,” What’s New?

2016-electionsNew Orleans   Headlines in both the local and national papers focused on Donald Trump’s unwillingness to commit that he would honor the verdict of the voters in a democratic election. Clinton responded in the debate that his position was “horrifying.” My question continues to be, “What’s new?” Am I the only one who wonders why this is such a flashpoint now, and hasn’t been for the last eight years or longer?

Part of this is both personal and political for me, as I have noted before. But at least I’m not alone. David Weigel writing in The Washington Post this week had a memory that was longer than yesterday’s news cycle, and began his piece this way:

According to the Republican nominee for president, his opponents were “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.” In an ad, his campaign warned of “nationwide voter fraud” that could swing the election. His running mate worried, in a fundraising letter, that “leftist groups” were trying to “steal the election.”

 

The candidate was not Donald Trump. It was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who in the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election embraced the theory that ACORN, a community organizing group previously embraced by Democrats and Republicans, was helping to rig the election for Barack Obama by filing fake voter registration forms.

Poor Weigel. He’ll probably be fired soon for pointing out that the emperors continue to walk naked in Congressional hallways and DC corridors. It also goes without saying, and time has proven this out, so I’ll bore everyone by saying, that no such thing happened, nor was there ever any evidence then or now to back up such nonsense about voting.

Even for McCain in 2008 this was an old saw, rather than something he was inventing. Such claims on voter fraud based on voter registration work have been part of the standard operating procedure on election tactics for Republicans for a number of cycles, certainly since the concept of “battleground” states became prominent and the George W. Bush election turned into a Supreme Court disputed umpire call after Al Gore won the popular vote. In Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for a number of election cycles before 2008, ACORN had been the subject of similar attacks and fabrications with fake FEC complaints and state election charges all of which would be withdrawn by early the following year after the elections were over. Our assumption had been that McCain had wrongly assumed that the election might be close with Obama and was tactically hedging in order to prepare claims in some states and hope for a repeat of the Bush 2000 scenario. As it turned out, he was stomped by Obama, so none of that emerged, though thanks to McCain the target for conservatives would stay on ACORN’s back.

And, let’s be honest about all of this. Of the hardcore 40% base that is sticking with Trump and listening to all of this balderdash, I would put good money on the fact that a huge percentage of that base has still refused to accept the legitimacy of President Obama’s two election victories and the work of his eight years. The continuing drumbeat of the Republican faithful up until recently that ACORN stole both elections and was preparing to steal this one is more than sufficient evidence for such a bet.

Once the votes are all counted, the winner will be named, and whether Trump and his Trumpeteers accept it or not isn’t relevant come Inauguration Day, except that such schoolhouse door resistance to the choice of voters in our fragile democracy only assures even more polarization and extremist from Congress on down to the grassroots.

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