Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cosnservative activists try to bug Democratic Senate office

January 26, 2010 8:11 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- A conservative activist who made undercover videos of the liberal community-organizing group ACORN was one of four men charged Tuesday with attempting to illegally access the phone system in a district office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Joseph Basel, 24; Robert Flanagan, 24; James O'Keefe, 25; and Stan Dai, 24, were charged with entering Landrieu's New Orleansoffice under "false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony," according to release from the local U.S. attorney's office.

The four posted a $10,000 unsecured bond and were released, said Kathy English of the Department of Justice. According to CNN affiliate WWL, the court date in the case is set for February 12.

O'Keefe is the same activist who dressed up as a pimp last summer and visited ACORN offices to solicit advice on setting up a brothel, among other scenarios, law enforcement officials confirmed. He secretly recorded the visits on videotapes that were posted on the Internet. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, his office said.

Articles on conservative Web sites connect O'Keefe to a man named Joe Basel, describing them as conservative student activists and filmmakers.
This is a very unusual situation and somewhat unsettling for me and my staff.
--U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu

"This is a very unusual situation and somewhat unsettling for me and my staff," Landrieu said in a statement Tuesday night. "The individuals responsible have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony. I am as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose, which I hope will become clear as the investigation moves forward."

Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Michael McHale, in a separate statement, called the case a "Louisiana Watergate."

"Louisiana families are shocked and outraged that these men would break the law to carry out their political agenda with this Watergate-like break-in and attempted wiretapping," McHale said in the statement, which also claimed Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter has "ties to some of the players involved" and called on Vitter to "immediately denounce" the suspects and anyone else involved.

According to the news release Tuesday and an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes, who is based in New Orleans, Basel and Flanagan attempted to gain access to Landrieu's office Monday while posing as telephone repairmen.
The two men were "each dressed in blue denim pants, a blue work shirt, a light green fluorescent vest, a tool belt and a construction-style hard hat when they entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building," the release noted.

Read the affidavit here: Read the affidavit (PDF)

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Milton said...

24 year old Robert Flanagan, son of the acting US Attorney for Western LA, William Flanagan (Senator Vitter Held Up Acting U.S. Attorney Flanagan’s Replacement) will more than likely get a plea deal and turn on The other three, too bad.

Rightardia said...

Time will tell. I can't wait for the trial if there is one. I would expect the GOP attorneys will prefer a plea deal to avoid more negative publicity.