Investigative journalist James O’Keefe, who was arrested by the FBI this week in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, says he had no plans to tap the phones of the Louisiana senator, but instead was trying to shine a light on her refusal to answer constituent calls.
In a statement posted on Big Government, O’Keefe denies — and blasts the media for reporting — that those arrested were there to wiretap her phone lines, but admits they were investigating the senator’s phone system “to determine whether or not Senator Landrieu was purposely trying to avoid constituents” voicing complaints on health care.
In addition to O’Keefe, 25, Robert Flanagan, Stan Dai and Joseph Basel, all 24, were also arrested.
O’Keefe, out of jail on $10,000 bond but ordered by a judge to live with his parents until his Feb. 13 preliminary hearing, does not elaborate on their actions at Landrieu’s office except to say the group went there “to ask the staff if their phones were working.”
“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,” he wrote.
O’Keefe said the investigation was launched because “many of Senator 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.”
Asked about this, O’Keefe wrote, Landrieu claimed their phone lines have been jammed for weeks.
“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 Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working,” he wrote.
O’Keefe made a name for himself after publishing videos of his going undercover as a pimp to tape ACORN workers providing advice on how to set up a brothel.
He also blasted the mainstream media for the “journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story,” including MSNBC, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.
“We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I’m eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media,” he said.
Landrieu’s press secretary, Rob Sawicki, wrote in an email to The Daily Caller that “It is obvious to anyone following this case that James O’Keefe crossed the line and Sen. Landrieu expects a thorough federal investigation into the matter. She believes that he should save his feeble explanation for the FBI and the judge.”
Updated at 1:57 p.m.