Conservative activist James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas (and its affiliated Project Veritas Action) have made their name by surreptitiously recording his political opponents. He then has selectively edited the videos to present a falsely damning impression of his subjects.
In making these guerrilla videos, O’Keefe has not always followed the law. Six years ago, O’Keefe 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.
In 2013, after receiving immunity from criminal prosecution from the California Attorney General, he paid $100,000 to settle a civil suit after one of the people he filmed claimed he violated a state law against secret recordings of an individual’s voice and image.
Now, Project Veritas Action may have again run afoul of the law. A video released last week, purporting to prove election rigging, shows footage of a September conference call that a Veritas camera operator secretly recorded. The narration describes “daily conference calls we witnessed.”
But ThinkProgress confirmed with multiple people on the conference call shown in the video that they were on the call from states that have wiretapping laws that prohibit recording of phone conversations unless all parties consent to be recorded. According to the Digital Media Law Project, 11 states have these “two-party consent laws.” At least two people who were part of the call confirmed that they were calling from different states on that list and that they did not consent to be recorded by O’Keefe or anyone else.
Project Veritas and O’Keefe did not respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about their recording of and publication of this video. But it appears their latest videos, claiming to expose “illegal” activity, may in fact be the product of illegal wiretapping.
Update: O’Keefe was explicitly asked by Media Matters for America President Bradley Beychok after the third presidential debate whether he had broken any laws in making the latest batch of videos. He replied: “ No, I didn’t break any laws. We have a dozen attorneys, all of the stuff is run by the attorneys. I stand by the reporting.”