With $10,000 in funding from Donald Trump’s “charitable” foundation, guerrilla filmmaker James O’Keefe has been in the news this week for a controversial series of videos purportedly showing an independent pro-Hillary Clinton group coordinating to disrupt Donald Trump rallies. The group accused the Democratic Party of “illegal coordinated campaign expenditures.”
O’Keefe, who runs Project Veritas and its affiliated Project Veritas Action Fund, is himself no stranger to “illegal” things. In 2010, he was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $1,500 fine in 2010 after taking a plea bargain following a botched “sting” attempt at the office of then-Sen. Mary Landrieu.
But ThinkProgress has learned that O’Keefe is not the only convicted criminal working at Project Veritas. The tax-exempt organizations are also home to Robert “Joe” Halderman, a former television producer best known for attempting to blackmail David Letterman.
Halderman served four months in jail at Rikers Island after pleading guilty to second degree felony charges of grand larceny. The charges stemmed from his attempts to blackmail Letterman about the then-Late Night host’s extramarital affairs.
“In September of 2009, I attempted to extort $2 million from David Letterman by threatening to disclose personal and private information about him, whether true or false,” Halderman confessed to a New York state court. After his jail sentence, he filed for bankruptcy and worked as a producer for On the Case with Paula Zahn.
ThinkProgress confirmed that Halderman works for Project Veritas by calling and asking for him. The receptionist said he was away from his desk, but provided his Project Veritas email address.
Neither O’Keefe nor Halderman immediately responded to ThinkProgress inquiries about Halderman’s specific role at the organization.
O’Keefe and his organization have a long history of selectively editing videos to present a false impression to the viewer. Their most famous video supposedly showed employees the now-defunct community organizing group ACORN agreeing to help him smuggle underage prostitutes into the country. After the videos came out, it turned out the employees in the video had called the police and O’Keefe paid a $100,000 settlement after being sued for surreptitious recording of their voices and images.
CORRECTION: An earlier update to this article indicated that O’Keefe had also hired John Landino and discussed his criminal record and child support and tax obligations. Although Landino was convicted of a felony charge, he was later pardoned. In an email to ThinkProgress, Mr. Landino also provided documents demonstrating he does not owe child support. We regret the error.