He's innocent until proven guilty, but things do not look good for James O'Keefe—until recently a conservative folk hero for having busted ACORN by posing as a pimp with colleague Hannah Giles and secretly taping his interactions with the non-profit's employees, who were more than willing to help him get his enterprise off the ground.
Now, however, O'Keefe has been arrested for allegedly tampering with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu's home office in Louisiana. In a caper that sounds straight out of a bad cartoon, O'Keefe apparently sat in the Senate office's waiting area recording while two friends came in wearing jump suits, tool belts, flourescent vests, and carrying white hard hats. (Frankly, knowing O'Keefe's costuming predilections, I would not be surprised if they looked just like the Marios Bros., mustaches and all, but that's not in the affidavit.)
The two men posed as telephone repairmen, according to a witness, and got access to a phone in the office and the Senate building's telephone closet. Here's the link to the affidavit (PDF). Some highlights:
On or about Januart 25, 2010, at approximately 11:00 a.m., Flanagan and Basel entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building, each dressed in blue denim pants, a blue work, shirt, a light fluorescent green vest, a tool belt, and carrying white, construction-style hard hat. Basel and Flanagan went to the tenth floor of the building and entered the office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu. According to Witness 1, a member of Senator Landrieu's staff who was working in her New Orleans office at the time of the incident, James O'Keefe was already present in the office. O'Keefe informed Witness 1 that he was waiting for someone to arrive. ...
Witness 1 further state that when Flanagan and Basel entered the office, O'Keefe positioned his cellular phone in his hand so as to record Flanagan and Basel.
ACORN responded to the news via its Twitter page: "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving soul."
Landrieu's office has yet to react because it's an ongoing investigation. Editors at Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, the right-leaning outlet that first published O'Keefe's undercover investigation of ACORN, told Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent that they had no idea O'Keefe was planning this.
Michelle Malkin has words of wisdom: "Let it be a lesson to aspiring young conservatives interested in investigative journalism: Know your limits. Know the law. Don’t get carried away. And don’t become what you are targeting."
Ideological allies of O'Keefe's in the media, so far, are united in condemning the behavior the charges allege, which will likely taint the public case he made against ACORN and future investigative attempts by other conservatives.
Update: Big Government editor Mike Flynn: "I have no idea what he was doing or why he was there. If he broke the law, he should face the consequences. Unlike the left, I don't believe the ends justify the means. In no way do I or anyone affiliated with the site condone his allegedly illegal behavior."
Update: Allahpundit goes over the possible charges and punishments.
Also, one of those arrested was the son of the acting U.S. Attorney for Louisiana. You'd think between the four of them, someone might have wondered whether what they were doing was legal.
“We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O’Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. We only just learned about the alleged incident this afternoon. We have no information other than what has been reported publicly by the press. Accordingly, we simply are not in a position to make any further comment.”