James O'Keefe Will Have His Revenge on New Orleans
Many, many conservatives will raise their glasses when—as looks all but certain—Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu loses tomorrow night. The three-term Democrat won three close races, the first by what some conservative voters still insist was fraud. (At a rally for Representative Bill Cassidy, the Republican candidate, a voter told me that the state should change election laws to stop New Orleans from reporting late and swinging the outcome.) Her defeat will mark the end of a century-plus of Democratic power in the state, a defeat for a family that has so far produced two mayors of New Orleans, one of whom became a cabinet secretary and one of whom might run for governor.
No conservative will relish a Landrieu loss quite like James O'Keefe. It was in Landrieu's New Orleans office, in 2010, that a young O'Keefe, who had been riding high from the ACORN stings, made his biggest mistake. He and three associates decided to debunk Landrieu's public explanation for why she wasn't hearing from conservative constituents—that her "lines had been jammed for weeks." They dressed as telephone repairmen, in reflective vests and hard hands, and brought a hidden camera to Landrieu's New Orleans office to prove that the lines were not jammed. It was not a well thought-out plan.
"We had partied a little too hard the night before," O'Keefe remembered in his 2013 memoir, Breakthrough. "We were young and foolish."
O'Keefe et al were arrested. The schadenfreude poured like table wine: After the Republican Party had vouched for this citizen journalist, he'd stumbled into possible criminal activity. "The individuals responsible have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony," said a triumphant Landrieu. O'Keefe, under duress, ended up taking a deal that gave him three years probation. He knew it was a mistake. "I had a plane to catch," he wrote later. "I was supposed to go skiing at Tahoe."
The arrest was a front-page, A1 New York Times story. For years, whenever O'Keefe emerged, Democrats would brand him a "felon." This was not true. He'd committed a class B misdemeanor, according to the state. And O'Keefe eventually returned to Louisiana to ask whether the U.S. Attorney's office had carried out a politicized investigation. Two days before the election, he told donors to his Project Veritas, via email, what happened on his way to Louisiana.
Thanks to the fun folks at the TSA at JFK International, I spent 45 minutes officially detained as they searched my bags and "interviewed" me. When I asked to call family to let them know I would be late, I was told to put my phone down and an agent barked, "You're under our control now."
Even better, when they asked what I do for a living, I explained I was a journalist that investigates government corruption. They actually laughed at me.
I know I'm not alone in my experience with the TSA, but it really sets the tone for what I'm releasing today. Power...corruption...arrogance.
But O'Keefe managed to arrive in Louisiana to release his video of the case against Landrieu, the government, and the inquisitors.
"Senator Landrieu needs to address these questions," said O'Keefe in the video, "and the prosecutors in this case need to answer for their possibly criminal, or at least unethical, actions."
Democrats were unmoved, so O'Keefe allies brought more cameras. Lee Stranahan, working with the Black Conservatives Fund's 11th hour push for Cassidy, filmed what happened when O'Keefe visited Louisiana Democrats and explained that he would sue if the party didn't stop calling him a "felon" when telling the media to ignore him.
"We are going to sue you for defamation," said O'Keefe, walking behind the party's spokeswoman. "All you have to do is apologize. There's no felony!"
Democrats had been worried that O'Keefe might release more video. Maybe, as he'd done in Colorado, he'd found volunteers blithely agreeing when secret-cameramen urged them to commit voter fraud. But the polls open in less than 24 hours, and there's no evidence of new scandals. There is just O'Keefe, trying to clear his name as Landrieu loses her grip on power.