Posted: Jan 26, 2010 2:50 PM by Rob Kirkpatrick
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A conservative activist who has caused
problems for the community organizing group ACORN and the son of a
federal prosecutor were among four people arrested and accused of
trying to interfere with phones at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's
Activist James O'Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu's New
Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both
24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, according to U.S.
Attorney Jim Letten's office. Letten says O'Keefe recorded the two
with his cell phone.
Once inside the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S.
Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to
the main phone at the reception desk.
After handling the phone, "Flanagan and Basel next requested
access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work
on the main telephone system," Letten's office said.
The men were directed to another office in the building, they're
accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.
They were arrested later by the U.S. Marshal's Service. Details
of the arrest were not available. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was
also arrested, but Letten's office said only that he assisted the
others in planning, coordinating and preparing the operation.
Federal officials did not say why the men wanted to interfere
with Landrieu's phones or whether they were successful. Landrieu, a
moderate Democrat, declined comment Tuesday. She has been in the
news recently because she negotiated an increase in Medicaid funds
for her state before announcing her support for Senate health care
An FBI criminal complaint charging the men was unsealed Tuesday.
O'Keefe was the brains behind a series of undercover videos
which have caused major problems for ACORN - the Association of
Community Organizers for Reform Now.
O'Keefe managed to do what Republicans have been trying to do
for years - hurt the political affiliates of ACORN, which have
registered hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and other poor
areas of the country.
By producing undercover videos shot in ACORN offices, O'Keefe
brought a firestorm of criticism that the group was helping its
low-income clients break the law.
Using a hidden camera, O'Keefe, accompanied by a young woman
posing as a prostitute, shot videos in various ACORN offices where
staffers appeared to offer illegal tax advice and to support the
misuse of public funds and illegal trafficking in children.
O'Keefe once was editor of a conservative magazine on the campus
of Rutgers University in New Jersey, according to the Newark