ACORN foe: Phone scheme meant to embarrass senator

Michael Kunzelman and Brett J. Blackledge
Associated Press
Tampa Bay Online
January 29, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A conservative activist accused of trying to tamper with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones said he and three others charged 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.

Landrieu’s spokesman called his explanation “feeble.”

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 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 people Landrieu represents could not reach her office by phone.

“I learned from a number of sources that many of Sen. Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the health care bill,” O’Keefe said in the statement.

“I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for ‘weeks’ because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Sen. Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.”

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