Portraying himself as an “investigative journalist” who has been victimized by the mainstream media’s “journalistic malpractice,” James O’Keefe said today the alleged phone-tampering episode in New Orleans Monday was merely an attempt to investigate Sen. Mary Landrieu’s alleged lack of responsiveness to her conservative constituents.
In a statement posted on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site, O’Keefe writes: “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.”
O’Keefe also says, as a lawyer for one of his co-defendants did yesterday, his real intention was to investigate constituents’ claims that they were having trouble get through on Landrieu’s phones.
He cites (not by name) a Dec. 23 story in the Baton Rouge Advocate about a tea-partier protest of Landrieu over her support of the Senate health care bill. In it, an activist charges that calls to Landrieu had not been getting through. Landrieu told the paper that “Our lines have been jammed for weeks, and I apologize.”
O’Keefe interprets that quote to mean that the phone system was broken, rather than that there was a high volume of calls. (Landrieu has since said there were no problems with the phones.)
“I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for ‘weeks’ because her phones were broken,” he writes. “In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office - the people’s office - to ask the staff if their phones were working.”
O’Keefe and three companions are charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony — “maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America.” They allegedly tried to access a telephone closet that controlled Landrieu’s office phones at a General Services Administration office in the same building.
Landrieu, for her part, has dismissed the same explanation O’Keefe is now giving: “The fact remains that they perpetrated a false identity scheme on building security by posing as telephone workers and attempted to manipulate the phones in her office,” her spokesman told us yesterday.
Also worth noting here is that Breitbart has denied any “connection to” the Landrieu incident, while acknowledging he pays O’Keefe a salary. BigGovernment.com is where the ACORN sting videos were posted.
O’Keefe also appears to be correct that there was never any gag order in the case, despite media reports. A clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana told TPMmuckraker he knew of no such gag order.
He says he’s eager for the government to release video he made of the “entire visit.”
Here is the statement in full:
The government has now confirmed what has always been clear: No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu’s office. Nor did we try to cut or shut down her phone lines. Reports to this effect over the past 48 hours are inaccurate and false.
As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose corruption and lack of concern for citizens by government and other institutions, as I did last year when our investigations revealed the massive corruption and fraud perpetrated by ACORN. For decades, investigative journalists have used a variety of tactics to try to dig out and reveal the truth.
I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill. When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.” I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office - the people’s office - to ask the staff if their phones were working.
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. The sole intent of our investigation was to determine whether or not Senator Landrieu was purposely trying to avoid constituents who were calling to register their views to her as their Senator. We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I’m eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media.
It has been amazing to witness the journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story. MSNBC falsely claimed that I violated a non-existent “gag order.” The Associated Press incorrectly reported that I “broke in” to an office which is open to the public. The Washington Post has now had to print corrections in two stories on me. And these are just a few examples of inaccurate and false reporting. The public will judge whether reporters who can’t get their facts straight have the credibility to question my integrity as a journalist.”