Despite the fact that the government refused to allow James O’Keefe to travel to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the conservative activist was still able to appear at his scheduled luncheon talk via Skype.
The discussion, which included remarks by O’Keefe on “the role of the citizen journalist,” was sponsored by the Florida-based non-profit organization, the James Madison Institute. O’Keefe was even able to field questions from the audience through his internet hook-up.
O’Keefe is a filmmaker who was given a sentence of three years of probation for the misdemeanor charge of entering federal property under false pretenses. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to the charge in May 2010, after he and three accomplices tried but failed to tamper with the phones in the office of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. O’Keefe said at the time that he was trying to investigate complaints from voters that when they tried to call Landrieu’s office they were blocked from getting through because of their criticism of the Democratic Senator’s support of the health care reform bill.
At the time O’Keefe apologized to the judge for alarming those at the federal building by raising security concerns and that he regretted his actions. After the hearing, however, O’Keefe said he would continue his undercover work, saying:
“What I do is I stand up to power. I expose corruption in the back rooms.”
In addition to three years of probation O’Keefe had to pay a $1,500 fine and spend 100 hours of community service.
When asked how the discussion at the RNC went, O’Keefe answered via e-mail:
“The audience was pleased to learn that we are building an army of citizen journalists and investigators who are now in almost every state working to protect the American people from voter fraud by exposing deficiencies in the security of our electoral processes,” he wrote.
“We talked about the series of highly successful and publicized voter integrity investigations which have helped to shape the debate surrounding this vital issue, and which have prompted responses from governors, attorneys general, and state legislatures since January of this year.”
“With respect to the handling by the government of the misdemeanor case against me, we discussed the fact that my videotape in Lousiana was destroyed and the circumstances surrounding that event, the fact I was cleared by the government of all felony charges, and whether it’s grossly disproportionate at best or unconstitutional at worst to restrict the travel of a journalist for three years following a class-B misdemeanor,” added O’Keefe.