Opinion: James O’Keefe releases another ACORN video -- this one from Los Angeles
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In the latest chapter of the ACORN video scandal, conservative activist James O’Keefe tonight posted footage he secretly recorded this year at the community organizing group’s South Los Angeles office.
In the footage, O’Keefe (posing as a student at USC) and Hannah Giles (pretending to be a prostitute on the run from an abusive pimp in Miami) appear to ask an ACORN employee for assistance finding housing so that they can set up a brothel with underage sex workers. The employee, Lavelle Stewart, isn’t shown objecting to their comments and offers to connect the pair with other organizations that specialize in housing.
O’Keefe said in a written introduction to the video, which was posted at biggovernment.com, that Stewart ‘tells us she thinks we have to hook up with ‘someone who’s on that international sex business level,’ that ‘14- and 15-year-olds been traveling overseas for years,’ that she can do independent research for us, and that she has had meetings with Porn magnate Larry Flynt.’
The Los Angeles office of ACORN, a housing advocacy group, refuted the video and O’Keefe’s claims in an e-mailed statement this evening. The statement called the tapes ‘clearly doctored.’ The statement also said that Stewart ‘made it clear that ACORN does not help with such things’ and attempted to take Giles and O’Keefe to a neighboring nonprofit agency that deals with international abuse.
‘It is hard to respond to this tape,’ the statement said. ‘It is so heavily edited that it may be constructed to conceal the reality of the interaction.’ (The complete text appears on the jump.)
Lyn Motley, of the Los Angeles office, said in a second statement: “We are going to reserve judgment on the actions of the former employee on this tape until we see the full, unedited version of this interaction.” Stewart left the organization last month, over matters unrelated to O’Keefe and Gile’s video, according to ACORN staffer Peter Kuhns.
O’Keefe and Giles shot to national prominence in September, when Fox News aired videotapes they made at several ACORN offices across the country in which employees appear to give them advice on tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution.
Outrage over the videos led Congress to cut federal funding for the community organizing group. This month ACORN filed suit against the federal government, saying the funding cuts were unconstitutional.
ACORN also sued O’Keefe and Giles in Baltimore, alleging that the audio portion of the video they made there was obtained illegally. In California, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown has launched an investigation into the pair. California law forbids secret electronic recordings of ‘confidential communication.’
The second video is posted after the jump.
Los Angeles ACORN statement, as prepared by the organization:
1. The tapes are clearly doctored and highly edited and it is our hope this will be responsibly reported on should this become a news story.2. The conversation took place outside of the ACORN office. The couple was taken outside of the office into the building-hallway (a common space) because the subject matter they were attempting to discuss was not appropriate and the employee made it clear that ACORN does not help with such things.3. The couple was brought to a neighboring agency that deals specifically with international abuse.4. The couple featured in the video did NOT portray themselves as a “prostitute” and a “pimp.”5. The couple described themselves as “a former prostitute escaping her pimp boyfriend in Miami” and the male as her “concerned friend, a student at USC” who had political aspirations. The male was NOT dressed in “pimp” attire but instead in a white shirt and pants. This contradicts what the “videographers” have stated in the press.6. The employee made repeated attempts to move the couple out of the office and building by suggesting a number of referrals of agencies or types of agencies to talk to.7. It is hard to respond to this tape. It is so heavily edited that it may be constructed to conceal the reality of the interaction. Statement: “ACORN is moving on; an independent investigation is underway, ACORN’s services have been under review and locally we continue to fight to end the foreclosure crisis and be a voice for the underserved. It’s clear that these videographers can’t move on and have resorted to releasing highly edited tapes in an attempt to keep themselves in the press.” — Lyn Mottley, ACORN leader, South LA
-- Kate Linthicum
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