NAME: James Edward O’Keefe III
HOME BASE: Bergen County, NJ
In 2012, the documentary Hating Breitbart, which attempts to paint the then-recently departed conservative propagandist Andrew Breitbart as some persecuted enemy of the left – which he was – who was merely getting the truth out about them – which he wasn’t, was released. Ultimately Breitbart died as nothing more than someone who was trying to cover up the racial crimes of his conservative cohorts, and he did it with flimsy evidence and his infamous temper tantrums whenever someone showed him up. We bring up the documentary because in it was a little bit of a milestone – Breitbart protege James O’Keefe saying the first words he has ever said about the fact that he participated in an Arlington, VA white supremacist forum put together by the Robert A. Taft Club in 2006.
In one segment, the documentary zeroes in on political writer Max Blumenthal for authoring a story for Salon.com where he notes O’Keefe attending this conference where the panelists were American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor then-National Review Online writer John Derbyshire, who in 2012 was fired from that position after a racist article he had written in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, and Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a black conservative who was not announced until a few days before the event. “Blumenthal said that because I was at a debate where this racist guy was debating this black guy, because I was present…then he went on to say how I organized the debate, blah, blah, blah. It’s all false,” O’Keefe says in the segment just before they cut to the argument Breitbart and his Breitbart.com associate Larry O’Connor had with Blumenthal at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “And Breitbart went after him and say, ‘Why did you lie?'”
The entire situation was a lesson in how mainstream conservatives will act when they are caught engaging in their racist activism. It was not Blumenthal that was lying, it was the Breitbart crowd that orchestrated a narrative that O’Keefe was just some unknowing participant in the event where he shook Kevin Martin’s hand afterwards saying he did not agree with the other two persons on the panel. But when something is a narrative that means what is being said will be the real lie, and the reason why we at One People’s Project in particular know its a lie is because it wasn’t Blumenthal who broke the story. We did. We were at the conference as well, and we took pictures of everyone that attended. One of those pictures happened to be of O’Keefe with Taylor in the background.
We will get back to this whole episode in a minute, but it’s good to look into the totality of this particular clown, because not only is he an example of what conservatives do when caught, he also shows how they are playing the racism game now. O’Keefe just might be the most bumbling of the racists that ever made it to the mainstream in this day and age, and no amount of people of color he keeps around him is going to wash that stink off. While the Taft Club forum has become our most notorious episode with O’Keefe, it was hardly the first. We were first on top of him while he was an up-and-coming racist hatemonger while a student at Rutgers University where he did his thing as a right-wing activist on campus. But he was able to parley this into a nice little career for himself, and at the time he was getting exposed as a racist activist, O’Keefe was just losing his status as the darling of the right. That’s because he and three others were facing jail time for trying to tamper with the phone lines in the New Orleans offices of Senator Mary Landrieu.
The story goes like this: According to reports, on January 25, 2010, O’Keefe and his friends Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan visited the New Orleans office of Senator Mary Landrieu. Basel and Flanagan disguised themselves as repairmen, and attempted to access the office’s telephone system by saying there was something wrong with the phone lines. O’Keefe was in the office and videotaped the some of the events with his cell phone camera. Office workers smelled a rat and called the authorities. The three of them were arrested, along with a fourth man Stan Dai, and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
But always expect conservatives to blame everyone else for what they do. A few days later, O’Keefe posted a statement on Breitbart’s biggovernment.com crying about the media coverage of the arrest as being “journalistic malpractice.” He still managed to grow a pair and admit, “On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building.”
Too little too late. Conservatives that were praising him as a hero to their cause started dropping him like a hot potato. There are some that are joining him in taking the media to task for covering his case (!), like his pal Breitbart, who was among the few that still supported him. Still, your more established outlets are running for the hills. The primetime talk programs on the Fox News Channel, which hyped him up after the ACORN videos came out, said not one word about him the day the news broke about his arrest. And posters at Freak Republic admonished O’Keefe, one saying, “Hate to say it, but I think O’Keefe fits the old description that goes something like: ‘he’s got more nerve than sense’.” O’Keefe and his friends all eventually plead guilty to a single misdameanor count of entering a federal building under false pretenses, and O’Keefe was sentenced to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine while the others received lesser sentences.
Of course, before his fall from grace he had got his claim to fame when he decided to take a camera and saunter into a few offices of the group ACORN posing as a pimp bringing along his prostitute – actually Hannah Giles, the daughter of conservative website TownHall.com’s founder Doug Giles. They caught ACORN workers on tape telling them how to evade law enforcement, shield their assets from the government and win loans for their illicit endeavor. Needless to say, all hell broke loose around an organization that has become the bogeyman for the right over the past year because the man they love to hate, President Barack Obama, was a one time lawyer for the group. Because of the videos, the group had been denounced by the White House, defunded by the Senate, only to restore the funding after ACORN fought back in court, and several employees were under criminal investigation although no charges have ever been filed. Now the consensus in the midst of all of this was that if the charges were legitimate, ACORN needed to simply clean up its act if it was going to continue advocating for poor people. The thing is, when you are dealing with a guy like James O’Keefe, chances are the story isn’t as black and white as it looks.
Well, let us rephrase that. It isn’t something you can trust on its face. It being black and white – that’s another story. Like we said before, we have history with this clown.
In 2005, we published an article titled “College Republicans and the Fascists who Love Them”. In it, we spoke of a then-new and now-defunct publication that appeared on the Rutgers University campus called the Centurion. It basically carried the traits of your average right-wing campus publication found on any campus: while leftist – or what they would call leftist for the sake of propaganda – publications try to inform and advance education that addresses concerns of the time, the mission of conservative publications has always been to just attack liberals. Like a little kid having a temper tantrum, the Centurion has been nothing more than zingers aimed at liberals on campus and whatever liberal organizations they feel like harassing. James O’Keefe was one of the founders of the Centurion, and we noted a line in what he called his “Conservative Manifesto” in the section he titled “A Conservative is Politically Incorrect”:
“Buzzwords like ‘inclusion,’ ‘tolerance,’ and ‘diversity’ are racist, hypocritical, and exclusive to, as Leo Strauss said, ‘those who have stated clearly and forcefully there are unchangeable standards founded in the nature of man and the nature of things.'”
Now we are used to the neo-con routine of being racist by saying that everyone else but them are racist, and O’Keefe is a prime example of this. His attitude towards people of color has been spotlighted by a Daily Kos blogger who visited his site and found this gem in his now deleted online diary about how he was kicked out of a dorm at Rutgers:
“My freshman year of college I was placed in a triple room on the second floor of Campbell. One of my roomates (sic) was gay. The other was just bizarre. Two months in I volunteered to leave and was put on an all-black, floor, the Paul Robeson floor, on Mettler 3 in November. I was placed with, no joke, an Indian midget named “Hashish” who smelled like shit. Then he transfered (sic). I had a single. For the month of January, I never left my room. Then on Valentines day (sic), the one year anniversary of James/Arielle, in came a greek kid named Paul. Paul was an absolute nightmare. Then, to my horror, he actually said to the all-black RAs that I called everyone on the floor “niggers.” – a complete lie. It was my word against his. I was lead out of the room crying and screaming at him and my situation, no friends, no one one (sic) to talk to., forced to go in front of a black man, Dean Tolbert, to defend myself and help explain that I did not call anyone any names.”
Well, perhaps this explains why O’Keefe hates Paul Robeson so much. It’s not because he was a Stalinist, which was how the 2005 Black History Month issue of the Centurion he edited incorrectly tried to paint him. It’s because O’Keefe got himself into a racial row with his roommate and was removed from the dorm. Put his whole concern about diversity and tolerance in a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?
As mentioned, the Centurion’s main mission was to go after anyone they don’t like, and it is often the usual conservative targets: people of color, Muslims, liberals, people who don’t like them, etc. And don’t look for any highbrow stuff either. Example: a cartoon depicting former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, the first openly gay governor in United States history, has him telling a deliveryman asking him where he can take a package for him that he “takes it in the rear”.
The Centurion was being funded by the Leadership Institute, the Arlington, Va.-based outfit that works to train conservative students to be activists on campuses around the country. In recent years, the racist activism in the Leadership Institute is a little more exposed, whether you are talking about former intern Marcus Epstein and his Robert Taft Club attempting to host that infamous forum on race, giving speaker funds to Michigan State University’s chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, led by now-attorney Kyle Bristow and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for among other things, inviting people like Taylor and British National Party members on campus to speak, or the founding by Epstein and other Institute members of Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), which immediately began to wear out their welcome on college campuses across the country when people started to take notice of the white supremacists they were cozying up to. We will get back to them in a minute too.
O’Keefe started working for the Leadership Institute immediately after graduating from Rutgers in 2006. Usually it was Borat-style prank stuff, something he was good for while an editor of the Centurion. The problem is unlike Sasha Baron Cohen, O’Keefe has to spin the stuff he gets from his “stings” to what he wants them to be. In 2006, he brought fellow Leadership Insitiute member and anti-abortion zealot Lila Rose posing as a pregnant/underage teen to Planned Parenthood facilities with a hidden camera to record the conversations. They managed to catch one of the workers suggesting that they cover up a possible statutory rape situation. In 2008, keeping in tradition of his obsession with racial matters, O’Keefe called the Columbus, OH Planned Parenthood office and requested that his donation be earmarked to abort black babies. Now Planned Parenthood supports abortion rights and wants to make it more accessible for everyone, so it isn’t an issue if someone wants to make abortions accessible for a certain community, and this wasn’t an issue for the person O’Keefe called. O’Keefe then added a nice salvo at the end of this phone call, saying, “Because there’s definitely way too may black people in Ohio. So, I’m just trying to do my part.” That got a “Hmm. Okay, whatever.” from the Planned Parenthood worker, but unfortunately for her not recoiling in outrage and hanging up the phone is what got the right wing MOB (Manufactured Outrage Brigade) standing outside Planned Parenthood offices and inside Fox News studios. Planned Parenthood put out statements on both incidents saying that the workers did not approach the two cases properly, and James O’Keefe start began to shine among the right. Leadership Institute thought that might have been a bit much however, and jettisoned O’Keefe after the affair.
The ACORN videos are curious however. The organization responded to them by noting things O’Keefe left out. The truth of the matter is when O’Keefe and Giles walked into a number of the ACORN offices he was seen as a joke, most notably by ACORN organizer Tresa Kaelke whom they approached in San Bernadino, CA. “When the actors approached Ms. Kaelke with their provocative costuming and outlandish scenario, she could not take them seriously,” an ACORN statement read. “So she met their outrageousness with her own personal style of outrageousness. She matched their false scenario with her own false scenarios.”
The false scenario that got the right-wing blogs and Fox News pundits salivating and running with the story without checking it was how Kaelke murdered her first husband. That alone was enough for Glenn Beck to spend an entire show on the matter and Sean Hannity and O’Keefe and Giles on his program to talk about it. But when Hannity asked if the filmmakers bothered to check and see if the story was true, Giles responded, “We’re working on that.”
Soon, that job was done for them – by ACORN. NewsHounds.us notes that ACORN released the police report of the investigation into the “homicide” of Kaelke’s husband and found “the claims do not appear to be factual. Investigators have been in contact with the involved party’s known former husbands, who are alive and well.” In addition, NewsHounds.us says, ACORN also points out that the fact that the filmmakers, Breitbart and Fox presented the video as truth, without any independent investigation, calls into question all of their journalistic standards. The organization also questioned why some footage that reflected well on ACORN had been edited out of the video. That might have something to do with their experience at the Philadelphia office on July 24, where things did not go as planned. According to a statement by the office there, “after causing a major disturbance, they were asked to leave the office, and a police report was filed.” No charges were filed against O’Keefe or Giles, however, but what’s even more interesting is how this particular video is one that hasn’t been seen in the series of ACORN videos on YouTube or the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel. This coming from the guy who edited a student publication that once complained of “the selective film editing of Michael Moore and the biased reporting of The New York Times, CNN and CBS”.
There are bad people in every organization, but you fix the problem. Planned Parenthood and ACORN obviously needed to deal with the issues brought up in the video, but they weren’t corrupt organizations, just ones that conservatives hate. As Whoopi Goldberg noted on an episode of the View, ACORN is the premier organization that advocates for the poor in this country. They were in New Orleans helping Katrina victims before President Bush even knew there was a situation. ACORN eventually folded, but the remanants simply went under different names and continued the work ACORN did. There however was that attempt to leave a significant hole, and given the history poor black people have had with conservatives, not to mention the history of Leadership Institute and their boy James O’Keefe, one has to wonder if that is not the plan.
And that brings us back to that 2006 Taft Club forum. Now originally, it was supposed to be held at the Leadership Institute, but it ended up being moved to a building at the Georgetown Law School. What the Breitbart crowd pulled when this information was put out there in 2010 was laughable. First, Andrew Breitbart went on an eight-hour Twitter rampage trying to either refute the story or pressure others not to run with it. Salon.com corrected some things, and made it clear it wasn’t a retraction, but that was enough for the Breitbart crowd to pretend it was a retraction, even though it remains on their website to this day. Other right-wing blogs assisted in the ruse, including ironically the white supremacist ones. Breitbart even managed to get Kevin Martin to defend O’Keefe.
The funniest thing about the entire thing was how they avoided talking to us like the plague, even though we were the source of the story. There were only scant references to us, and to be fair they did include screen shots of our original article in Hating Breitbart, but direct contact with us? Nope. A weird phone call from someone that didn’t give his name maybe, but nothing we can confirm. That changed at CPAC 2010, however when Daryle Lamont Jenkins went right up to Breitbart while he was conducting a radio interview about his run-in with Blumenthal and called him out as a racist and a liar. The other funny thing: O’Keefe kept his mouth shut the entire two weeks of the scandal and really didn’t say anything until as we said, that Hating Breitbart documentary. That might be particularly telling, because it seems for all the talk that he knew nothing of the people that put on that forum, he seemed to know enough to accept an invitation from that same crowd to speak at Providence College.
Something to note: The Robert A. Taft Club was co-founded by White Supremacist Richard Spencer, now the President of National Policy Institute (NPI), and White nationalist (and another Leadership Institute alum) Kevin DeAnna, who went on to also co-found Youth for Western Civilization (YWC). Now YWC, which fancied itself a university student union, made no bones about his white supremacist leanings, working closely with Jared Taylor and his American Renaissance publication, and inviting white supremacists like Spencer, to speak on college campuses. This was one of the reasons why the group was being shunned by universities across the country, most notably Rhode Island’s Providence College, who wouldn’t even recognize them as a student organization. To that end the YWC chapter there, ran by Tim Dionisopoulos operated under the auspecies of the College Republicans (CR), and brought hatemongers like John Derbyshire and Richard Spencer to speak on campus in 2011. O’Keefe was invited by them as well to speak on media activism. “Despite bravado and posturing from local antifa who made overtures to shut down the event, their threats turned out to be as empty as their beliefs, as none were brave enough to make an appearance on the Providence Campus,” YWC/CR head Tim Dionisopoulos wrote. Not long after that, a YWC associate wrote a story on the YWC website about his visit to a conference at Pace University called the Left Forum, which we participated in, and made note of our flyer warning of folks from YWC wanting to infiltrate which featured the pic of James O’Keefe at the Taft Forum. “We’re not sure if this is supposed to discredit O’Keefe or YWC. Either way, we don’t care — in fact, we display on our website pictures of YWC Providence Chapter leader Tim Dionosopolis posing with James O’Keefe at a recent event sponsored by the College Republicans.”
Antifa eventually called Timmy’s bluff, by the way. When Spencer showed up on campus, so did antifa, and that was the last event Dioniospoulos held on campus.
Eventually, YWC fell apart, and all the players went into some curious positions. Dionisopoulos went on to become a staffer for the Leadership Institute, fellow Providence YWC member Christine Rousselle, who took over College Republicans there after Dionisopoulos graduated is an editor at the right-wing website TownHall.com, and has appeared on outlets like CNN, and Kevin DeAnna and others found themselves at World Net Daily, a mainstream right-wing website that has been as of late inching its way closer to white supremacist groups for some reason. All of this, by the way, puts the whole temper tantrum that Andrew Breitbart and his people
threw in 2010 into perspective. After all, Breitbart himself posed for a picture with then-YWC member Matthew Heimbach, a neo-Nazi that has pushed for racial seperation and has said those who are against that “deserve a short drop with a tight rope around their neck.”
Today’s conservative is not about the work, only about the win. Everyone who works for a living and puts their time in to make their live better are enemies to the likes of O’Keefe, who while speaking of how conservatives work for a living and don’t have time to engage in activism as liberals who don’t work can, forgets that he is getting paid to be an activist by a group that is increasingly training their guns on people of color. It might be hard out there for a “pimp”, but try being a racist conservative.