Alexa

Suspect: Phone scheme meant to embarrass senator

 FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, activist James O'Keefe attends a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. O'Keefe w...
 In a Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 file photo, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Federal authorities...
 Graphic shows photos and bios of four men arrested and accused of trying to tamper with a U.S. senator's phones.

Senator's Office Arrests

FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, activist James O'Keefe attends a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. O'Keefe w...

Senators Office Arrests

In a Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 file photo, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Federal authorities...

PHONE_TAMPERING

Graphic shows photos and bios of four men arrested and accused of trying to tamper with a U.S. senator's phones.

A conservative activist accused of trying to tamper with a Democratic U.S. senator's phones said he and three others facing federal charges in the incident wanted to investigate complaints that constituents calling her office couldn't get through.
"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," James O'Keefe wrote Friday on the Web site biggovernment.com.
O'Keefe, known nationally for hidden-camera videos targeting the community-organizing group ACORN, said he believes it's clear he and others weren't trying to wiretap or shut down Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones in her office in a New Orleans federal building.
He said the four, including two who posed as telephone repairmen, wanted to investigate criticisms that Landrieu's constituents could not reach her office by phone.
"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 said in the statement.
Landrieu responded in December to complaints about phone problems in her office, saying a flood of calls jammed lines. Her spokesman has denied anyone on staff intentionally ignored or mishandled calls.
O'Keefe and the others face a charge of entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison. They are free on $10,000 bail.
Charged along with O'Keefe are Robert Flanagan, Joseph Basel and Stan Dai, all 24. The four are due back in court Feb. 12. Flanagan is the son of a federal prosecutor in Louisiana.
A day earlier, J. Garrison Jordan, an attorney for Flanagan, also denied the men were trying to disable or wiretap the phones in Landrieu's office.
"You're dealing with kids," Jordan said. "I don't think they thought it through that far."
Landrieu wasn't impressed with that explanation.
"Attorneys are hired to spin for their clients," she said Thursday in an interview in Washington. "Good luck."
Investigators are pressing ahead to see if that was indeed the men's motive, a senior federal law enforcement official said Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
O'Keefe last year became famous for his videos about ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, which has affiliates that register voters in urban and other poor areas of the country. He used a hidden camera to record as he brought a young woman posing as a prostitute to the group's offices.
After the uproar over O'Keefe's videos, the ACORN lost government and corporate contracts and the support of President Barack Obama. Obama, a former community organizer and a lawyer in Chicago, represented ACORN in 1995 in a lawsuit
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Associated Press Writers Justin Pritchard in New Orleans and Ben Evans and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.
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http://www.pelicaninstitute.org
http://www.biggovernment.com
http://www.landrieu.senate.gov


Updated : 2020-12-02 15:02 GMT+08:00