Updated at 3:07 p.m.
Last year 25-year-old James O'Keefe
created an uproar when he and a friend dressed like a pimp and prostitute and videotaped themselves getting advice from ACORN
on how the pair could receive housing assistance to run a brothel.
O'Keefe's clandestine videos of his conversations with ACORN led Congress to cut some federal funding for the agency. The videos also propelled Okeefe to hero status among political conservatives.
Case in point: Just last November, O'Keefe was in St. Louis serving as a keynote speaker before a crowd of some 4,000 Tea Party members at a downtown rally. (Video below.)
Sadly for O'Keefe, his latest prank didn't go nearly as well. Yesterday the young filmmaker and three accomplices were arrested in New Orleans and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
As the New York Times reports
, the men were allegedly trying to tamper with the phone system of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu
, a Democrat.
Per the Times
It was not clear precisely what the men were trying to do in Ms.
Landrieu's office, or what kind of information they were trying to
gather. But an affidavit signed by Steven Rayes, a special agent for the F.B.I.,
detailed parts of the operation, which began about 11 a.m. on Monday.
Mr. Basel and Mr. Flanagan entered the building dressed in "blue denim
pants, blue work shirts, light green fluorescent vests, tool belts, and
construction-style hard hats."
They said they were there to do
repair work on the telephone system, and later claimed they had left
their identification in their car.
Mr. O'Keefe was already
inside the building and told a person at the office that he was waiting
for someone to arrive, according to the complaint. It said he was
"holding a cellular phone so as to record" video images of Mr. Basel
and Mr. Flanagan.
Mr. Basel picked up the handset of the main
telephone at the reception desk and both he and Mr. Flanagan tried -- or
pretended to try -- to call it with their cellphones. Saying that they
could not complete the calls, they asked to be directed to the
telephone closet, so they could work on the building's telephone system.
Shortly afterward, they were arrested by United States marshals.
The affidavit does not mention that the men were specifically attempting to wire-tap the phone system, and their attorneys did not provide specific regarding the charges. If convicted the men could face sentences of a fine or up to ten years in prison.
Upon leaving jail on a $10,000 bond, O'Keefe told reporters: "The truth shall set me free."
His opening line in St. Louis last November? "Pimps and hoes!"
The blog St. Louis Activist Hub
reports that one of O'Keefe's co-conspirators also arrested in New Orleans yesterday -- Joseph Basel
-- participated with him in a stunt at Washington University last fall. According to Activist Hub, O'Keefe shot the following video of Basel acting as a communist Russian attempting to put capitalists in an ol' fashioned gulag.
The blog also reports that O'Keefe, Basel and others attempted to disrupt
a Show Me No Hate
gay-rights rally last November outside the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.
The Riverfront Times
sister paper in Minneapolis, has more on Basel's background here
See videos on next page...