Get Outta Here, Boys, Ya Bug Me!


On Monday morning, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, both age 24, dressed up as telephone company workers and walked into the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Inside the office, waiting for them, was James O’Keefe, the 25-year-old conservative activist who posed as a pimp in 2009 for a series of undercover videos that badly damaged the national community organization ACORN. As Basel and Flanagan clumsily worked on the phones, O’Keefe was recording them for a reason that remains unknown. When the “repairmen” and accomplices were asked for ID, they gave themselves up and were arrested.

Original DVD cover

In an affidavit detailing the bungled sting operation, FBI Agent Steven Rayes argued that “there is probable cause to believe that Flanagan and Basel by false and fraudulent pretense attempted to enter, and did in fact enter, real property belonging to the United States” in order to bug phones, and that they were “aided and abetted” by O’Keefe and a 24-year-old activist named Stan Dai. One day later, the botched operation has become national news, an embarrassment that could tarnish the conservative media that turned O’Keefe’s ACORN stings into a national sensation. While O’Keefe, Basel, Flanagan, and Dai were released on $10,000 bonds, they face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of “entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony.” The scandal marks a swift and staggering downfall for an activist who had been praised for months for doing the work the “mainstream media” wouldn’t do in exposing sloppy and illegal work by ACORN.


O’Keefe, a self-described “progressive radical” who studied the tactics of Saul Alinsky, made a name for himself at Rutgers University as the founder of a conservative newspaper and a producer of hidden camera stings of politically correct administrators. From 2006 through 2007 he worked for the Leadership Institute, training conservative students on how to start campus publications. In July and August 2009 he and 20-year-old activist Hannah Giles posed, respectively, as a pimp and prostitute seeking advice for cheating on their taxes from various ACORN employees across the country. Their investigation badly damaged ACORN and fueled a successful congressional effort to temporarily prevent the group from receiving any federal funds. O’Keefe and Giles quickly became conservative icons, sought-after speakers at Tea Party protests and events like The American Spectator’s annual dinner.

“Now James is a national conservative hero,” wrote Leadership Institute president Morton Blackwell in a October 15, 2009, blog post for, “and I believe he will write his own ticket to a future career doing just what he loves to do.”

On Tuesday, conservatives scrambled to contain the damage from O’Keefe’s Louisiana debacle. Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website hosted the ACORN tapes and pioneered a new breed of aggressive conservative investigative journalism. Mike Flynn, the editor-in-chief of Big Goverment, told TWI that the site was not working with O’Keefe; Flynn told libertarian Reason magazine that “unlike the left, I don’t believe the ends justify the means.”


The potential blowback from the Landrieu sting extended to some Republican members of Congress. In October, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) introduced a resolution honoring “the fact-finding reporting done by Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe III.” The resolution credited the two activists with “exemplary actions as government watchdogs and young journalists uncovering wasteful government spending” and asked for the House to officially honor them and “transmit an enrolled copy” of the resolution to them. Thirty-one other Republicans co-sponsored the resolution. On Tuesday night, Olson gave TWI a statement criticizing O’Keefe’s actions while maintaining that the ACORN sting had performed a valuable service.


On the way out of a Louisiana courthouse, O’Keefe’s first statement to the media was “veritas”–Latin for “truth,” and half of the name of his video company, Veritas Visuals.

“The truth,” said O’Keefe, “shall set me free.”

Uhh, no, dude. I think the truth is gonna do exactly the opposite, and I don’t think your roomies in the big house are going to be impressed that Faux News’s Chris Wallace named you their Power Player of the Week.

Now, kids, let’s take a closer look at James’s little friends. From POLITICO:

[…] Stan Dai, has past ties to Washington national security think tank, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. From the bio that accompanied his 2005-2006 Phillips Foundation College Leaders Program award:

STAN DAI, Lisle, Ill., attends The George Washington University majoring in Political Science. He is editor-in-chief of The GW Patriot, an alternative conservative student newspaper, a Club 100 Activist of Young America’s Foundation, and an Undergraduate Fellow on Terrorism of the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies.

FDD executive director Cliff May says Dai was part of an FDD summer terrorism/counterterrorism program for undergraduates in the summer of 2004. “He was one of our students six years ago,” May said by email. “He was a serious student then. Sounds like he’s got himself in a heap of trouble now.”


Dai, an immigrant from China, was president of the Conservative Student Union at George Washington University.

In 2008, he was assistant director of an intelligence community “center for academic excellence” at Washington D.C.’s Trinity University.

From CITY PAGES (blog):

[Joseph Basel] arrested for his involvement in a bungled Watergate-style phone-tapping of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office was once the editor of a monthly conservative publication at the University of Minnesota-Morris.


Basel was one of three founders of The Counterweight, a monthly conservative publication at University of Minnesota-Morris.


[In] his Facebook page. He’s listed as an ’08 graduate of University of Minnesota-Morris, and his friends include fellow suspects Dai and O’Keefe.

His fanpages include the Teaparty Patriots […].


Basel emerged through the world of conservative campus journalism, according to this Media Matters report:

Both O’Keefe and Basel seem to have gotten their start in the conservative college press with a little bit of help from the Leadership Institute, the group that aims to recruit and train conservative activists.

In an interview with the two men posted Jan. 14 on the Leadership Institute’s, it’s noted that O’Keefe founded The Centurion at Rutgers and Basel launched The Counterweight at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Both “were started with assistance from the Leadership Institute’s ‘Balance in Media’ grant.”


Main Justice has learned that Flanagan worked as an intern for Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) from January to April of last year. Kathryn Bruns, a press representative for Fallin, said she could only confirm that an intern of the same name worked in the office. She said she could not confirm that it was the same Robert Flanagan who was arrested, and declined to say if she knew whether the intern was from New Orleans or if his father was a federal prosecutor. She declined to comment on the arrest (Updated: 6:23 p.m.).

As first reported by the Associated Press and The Hill, Flanagan is the son of William J. Flanagan, who is the acting head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport. O’Keefe was in the news last year for his part in making secret videos in several offices of the community organizing group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

Fallin was one of the Republican representatives who introduced a bill that said the nation owed O’Keefe a debt of gratitude for his undercover videos.


UPDATE: 7:10 p.m. Media Matters reports:

The Times-Picayune reported that “Robert Flanagan’s attorney, J. Garrison Jordan, said he believes his client works for the Pelican Institute.”

Robert Flanagan is a frequent blogger for The Pelican Post, where he has written about Landrieu.  The Pelican Post is the blog of The Pelican Institute for Public Policy, “a non-profit research and education institution that conducts scholarly research and analysis of Louisiana public policy. The Institute’s mission is to advance sound policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government.”

UPDATE: 11:54 p.m. Flanagan removed his Facebook and Linkedin profiles.

You can read the affadavit detailing the charges at TPM.


Filed under Congress, Democrats, FBI, Fox News, humor, Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, Media, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, snark, Wiretaps, Wordpress Political Blogs

26 responses to “Get Outta Here, Boys, Ya Bug Me!

  1. writechic

    No remorse for what he’s done. Prosecutors love that. O’Keefe’s going from power player to power bottom. Oh, yeah.

    • o’keefe is an arrogant little asswipe. he won’t say he has any remorse until he realizes he’s going to jail. then he’ll just count the days until he gets his own radio show.

      • writechic

        Ugh. You’re right.

        • that’s okay. by the time he’s done with his legal problems, acorn will have reestablished itself, and he will be known as the asswipe who tried to take out acorn but didn’t and then tried to bug a senator’s office by using cheap hollow-weeny costumes.

  2. where did my comment go?

  3. hmmm…i originally said “very interesting”!

  4. Over on, DarkSyde from Daily Kos writes a political column that usually focuses on science policy. He has a bunch of wingnut commenters who sometimes taunt him. The past two days, DarkSyde has written about this story; his commenters have been strangely silent. I wonder why that is. 😉

    • 😆 that’s hilarious! i guess that means that o’keefe had better think of something else if his strategery was to depend on jury nullification. even the rethugs can’t defend those morans.

  5. Why are they calling this a “watergate style” burglary when it is more accurately a 3 Stooges job. Why didn’t they wear buttons that said PRESS and O’Keefe’s could have said PULL on their way inside ? They didn’t have parties at Rutgers like the one O’Dweeb is headed for if he doesn’t start singing and plea-ing fast. What am I saying ? He’ll squeal like the twerp he is unless Daddy the Federal Prosecutor cuts Junior in on a deal first. Strangely quiet over at Fox entertainment, does this guy have pictures of Bill-O and the lufa in action too ?

    • they don’t even have the finesse of the 3 stooges. more like lenny and squiggy. i don’t think o’keefe is going to talk first. i think the feds will pressure dai to talk, because he might be the least culpable. he wasn’t inside the building, so they jury wouldn’t want to punish him as much as the others. my guess is that flanagan’s dad will get junior a really good deal if he talks, so he might be the one to get the party started. of course, that’s my guess if it doesn’t turn out they were directed and funded by someone higher up. if that’s the case, maybe they’ll offer more than one a reduced sentence or even probation if they give up the head honcho (i think o’keefe will be the last to get an offer, because he’s an arrogant ass).

  6. Too bad the staged ACORN sting already let the bad rap genie out of the bottle.

    You have to be glad for the karma that caused them to botch their crime so they are busted.

    • silver lining time–if the whole acorn fiasco hadn’t taken place, this story would have taken up about a minute of the news on tv and an inch of space on the inside page of the newspaper. instead, 31 rethugs backed a resolution to praise o’keefe. one of them worked for lamar alexander. another for a minnesota state senator as his campaign manager and as an intern for a congresswoman from oklahoma. david vitter sang o’keefe’s praises. because of the acorn story, this is huge news that will be around for a long time, and the rethugs will be embarrassed by it. breitbart employed and financed o’keefe, and even if he’s not implicated, everyone will wonder if he was in on it. the conservative think tanks and college groups they belonged to are being laughed at. i think it’s a big win overall.

  7. The only thing that could make this funnier would be to cut to the stationhouse with the alarm going off and the Keystone Kops taking the call, then marching them out while bopping their little peabrain heads with nightsticks.

  8. KarenZipdrive

    I saw a photo of that punk smoking a retro, Hugh Hefner style pipe. Is he kidding?
    With that wimpy body and huge honker, he was a nerd growing up and he’s still a nerd.
    The convicts wherever he ends up are gonna make a woman of that boy.

    • i bet his role model is glenn blechhhh. he figures if that anemic-looking pasty wussy blob of a man could make people all fan-girly, then maybe there’s hope for his skinny-ass self.

  9. I’ve never heard of DeTeabag or seen his work, but there’s a rumor that this film was actually produced by Andrew DeBreitbart; now that’s one asswipe asking to get busted…

    • i was going to put produced and directed by andrew, but until that’s proven, i won’t act like a rethug and make that accusation. and don’t be shy, terry, just post the youtube here next time. let everyone see what the asswipe-in-chief sounds like.

  10. Milton

    24 year old Robert Flanagan, son of the acting US Attorney for Western LA, William Flanagan (Senator Vitter Held Up Acting U.S. Attorney Flanagan’s Replacement) will more than likely get a plea deal and turn on The other three, too bad.

    • hello milton,

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      i wouldn’t be surprised if flanagan is the first to accept a plea deal and start blabbing on the others. i would expect the prosecutors to first offer a deal to dai, since he wasn’t physically in the building. if he doesn’t talk, then they’ll go to flanagan (just because of his father), and if he doesn’t talk, then basel. i don’t see them offering o’keefe anything, as he was probably the ringleader (or the go-between if there are others involved) and because he’s such an arrogant little asswipe.

  11. Pingback: triple falls wallpaper, some stuff about fusion energy, anne frank and censorship, more on free speech and the powers of property « inkbluesky

  12. of all people – mary landrieu

    couldnt they have picked a better target

    idiots on all levels

    • i wonder why they picked her. they could have picked any senator, so why mary? did they think she was easy pickins’ or was someone in louisiana bankrolling this for their own purposes?