Four people were arrested on Monday trying
to bug telephones in the New Orleans’ office of Democratic Senator Mary
Landrieu. Among those arrested was James O’Keefe, the filmmaker best known for
the ACORN video scandal. Another, Robert Flanagan, is also the son of the
acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, William Flanagan.
According to the FBI affidavit,
Flanagan and [Joseph Basel] entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street
about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing
jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool
belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th floor office,
O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for
someone to arrive.
When Flanagan and Basel entered the
office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that
time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affidavit, observed
O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation.
O’Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.
After being asked, the staffer gave
Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told
investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the
main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working.
Flanagan did the same.
Appreciate our work?
Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:
They then told the staffer they
needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the
telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General
Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and both went in. There, a
GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials, after which they stated they left
them in their vehicle.
The U.S. Marshal’s Service apprehended all
four men shortly thereafter.
The motivation for their actions are not known at this time, nor is it known whether
they were acting
with anyone else.
Robert Flanagan’s attorney, J.
Garrison Jordan, said he believes his client works for the Pelican Institute.
Asked the motivation for the alleged wiretap plot, he said: "I think it
was poor judgment. I don’t think there was any intent or motive to commit a
The Pelican Institute "is a Louisiana-based think tank founded last year by
native New Yorker and Tulane grad Kevin Kane."
Though it labels itself as
"non-partisan," the Pelican Institute is undeniably bent toward conservative
and libertarian political philosophies, with a concentration on limiting
According to Politico
"the four men could each face up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000 if they are
Media Matters also has more info about the other men arrested.