LA Times report further undermines ACORN videographers' credibility

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On September 23, Los Angeles Times media critic James Rainey reported that ACORN official Lavelle Stewart "told me this week" that when conservative videographers James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles came to Stewart's ACORN office in Los Angeles disguised as a pimp and prostitute, Stewart "tried to get the 'prostitute,' who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center." Stewart's reported statement and a police report filed by officials at ACORN's Philadelphia office undermine O'Keefe's and Giles' claims that they were never rebuffed at any of the ACORN offices they visited, and the videographers have yet to release the Los Angeles and Philadelphia videos.

ACORN's Stewart reportedly said: "The fact she was not taking the help I offered ... raised a red flag"

From Rainey's September 23 Los Angeles Times column:

And visits to other ACORN offices have gone almost entirely unmentioned. Lavelle Stewart, a fair-housing coordinator in the group's Los Angeles office, told me this week that she tried to get the "prostitute," who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center.

"The fact she was not taking the help I offered her made me think something was not right," Stewart said. "It raised a red flag."

Evidence undermines videographers' claims that they were not rebuffed at any ACORN office

LA, Philadelphia accounts rebut videographers' claims that they were not rebuffed at any ACORN office. O'Keefe, Giles, and Andrew Breitbart, who publicized the videos, appeared on Fox News programs to claim that the videographers were never turned away at any ACORN office. But those claims are undermined by Rainey's report of what happened at the Los Angeles office and the fact that officials at ACORN's Philadelphia office contacted the police in response to O'Keefe's appearance there.

Philadelphia ACORN Housing official: "[W]e called the police and filed this report." In a YouTube video, Katherine Conway Russell, ACORN Housing Corp.'s Philadelphia office director, stated that O'Keefe visited the office "[l]ast July" with "another woman." Russell stated that "[a]fter asking several general questions, [O'Keefe] began to veer off into suspicious territory." Russell said that O'Keefe eventually "asked about bringing girls from El Salvador and getting them papers, et cetera," but that "I told them that there was nothing we could do to help them, that I didn't know anything about what they were asking about. ... I then told them that they had to leave." Russell also said that after she contacted another ACORN official and it became clear that O'Keefe "lied to get his appointment," they contacted the police. ACORN also released a copy of the police report, which claimed that "James O'Keefe" created a "verbal disturbance" at the ACORN office.

San Diego ACORN official also reported duo to police following encounter. In a September 22 article, the Associated Press reported that California police said an ACORN worker contacted them about "possible human smuggling":

Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.

National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple's high-profile expose.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.

Videographers reportedly engaged in selective editing, and O'Keefe has reportedly done so before

O'Keefe's dismissal of ACORN's claim that "the videos were doctored" undermined by report that they were. O'Keefe reportedly dismissed ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis' claim that the secretly filmed videos were doctored, stating, "They've lied every step of the way." But one video that reportedly "left out" an ACORN employee's statement that it would have nothing to do with a prostitution business undermines O'Keefe's claim. According to a report by CNN's Casey Wian that aired on the September 17 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, the videographers edited San Bernardino ACORN organizer Tresa Kaelke's statement that ACORN would not associate itself with prostitution. Wian said: "Left out of the originally released tape but included in a transcript the filmmakers later released is Kaelke's statement that ACORN would have nothing to do with their prostitution business."

Report: O'Keefe friend said she "grew disillusioned" with his tactics after being asked to doctor transcript of a past film. In a September 18 article, The New York Times reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O'Keefe's while at Rutgers University, "said she grew disillusioned" after O'Keefe "asked her to help edit the script" of a video involving a nurse at UCLA. The Times reported: " 'It was snippets to make the ... nurse look bad,' Ms. Farkas said. 'I said: "It has no context. You're just cherry-picking the nurse's answers." He said, "Okay" -- and then he just ran it.' "

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