O’Keefe, dirty tricks, and spies

Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. (Photo: The Oxford Union/REX Shutterstock)
Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. (Photo: The Oxford Union/REX Shutterstock)

New Orleans    When you’re wrong, it’s best to spit it out and get it over, and, boy, have I been wrong about this one. I keep saying that James O’Keefe and his so-called Project Veritas exploits are over and done. His spy-boy antics are often ridiculous and ham-handed have been discredited from his first exploits with ACORN through NPR, NEA, Planned Parenthood all the way to the Keystone Cops effort to tap the phones of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu in a federal building that landed him and his clown crew in the pokey. I’ve written the obit for his career of clueless capers over and over, and like a bad penny, he and his mess pop up again, seemingly bigger and badder than ever. Don’t get me wrong. I’m right about O’Keefe. I’m wrong about the acceptable limits of American politics on the radical conservative rightwing of Trump and his people.

Rather than his pretend journalism and film operation, Project Veritas getting smaller, it’s swimming in cash slipped both under and over the table. Reflected by their IRS 990 filings they have grown to over $8 million in donations and contributions. That number makes it possible for O’Keefe to make around $400,000 a year, so he can knock on the door of the one-percent that he is working so hard to advance.

Now he’s hooked up with Eric Prince of Blackwater infamous from Katrina to Iraq and thoroughly discredited, but another bad penny who keeps reappearing in one bizarre way or another. In Prince’s case it’s important to remember that being rich and highly connected helps. He is billionaire Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ brother and an heir as well to their father’s fortune. According to the New York Times, Prince is working with O’Keefe to take their spy-boy game up a notch with real ex-spies.

Prince appears to have become interested in using former spies to train Project Veritas operatives in espionage tactics sometime during the 2016 presidential campaign. Reaching out to several intelligence veterans — and occasionally using Mr. Seddon to make the pitch — Mr. Prince said he wanted the Project Veritas employees to learn skills like how to recruit sources and how to conduct clandestine recordings, among other surveillance techniques.

Believe me, you can’t make this stuff up. The O’Keefe/PV crew visited Prince’s Wyoming ranch for training and to shoot guns, allowing O’Keefe to pretend PV was on its way to being a great intelligence operation. (As an aside, why can’t my birth state of Wyoming ever catch a break, but thank goodness for Kanye!)

As always, the O’Keefe Krewe got caught. One of their spies tried to infiltrate a former CIA’s successful race for Congress as a volunteer. Another illegally snuck around a teachers’ local union in Michigan, Prince and DeVos original home state, and made PV the subject of a $3 million suit by the American Federation of Teachers.

I’ve learned my lesson. This won’t be the end of O’Keefe and his dirty tricks operation. He has friends in high places in the White House now, and this is the kind of stuff they seem to eat like candy. I guess anything is now possible, and there are no off limits anymore. I need to catch up to modern political life. There are no lines to cross it seems. In Trump world those lines are all in the rearview mirror, and it’s the O’Keefe types that are sitting in the back seat trying to help steer us into the wall.

God save Amercia!


Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International

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