James O'Keefe, the videographer who helped expose and defund ACORN with his viral videos about voter fraud and other government-enabled hijinks, says election scams are continuing bigger than ever.
What's worse, he says the mainstream media's "profound lack of curiosity" is keeping the illicit activity out of the public eye.
"Your real enemy is the mainstream media," O'Keefe told an Orlando gathering of "citizen watchdogs" hosted by the conservative Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity over the weekend. "The media aren't just biased, they're lying and trying to protect what's going on."
Waging a form of guerrilla journalism, O'Keefe, who never went to J-school, infamously dressed up as a pimp and, accompanied by a woman who played a prostitute, filmed an encounter with an ACORN worker from whom they sought cash assistance under a federally funded program.
Lately, O'Keefe's poses have occurred at polling places, where he obtained a ballot under the name of Attorney General Eric Holder in Arlington, Va. O'Keefe's growing legion of young "Project Veritas" pranksters/investigators has had similar success presenting themselves as NFL quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Tom Brady.
In each instance, poll workers required no identification and merely asked that the voter registration roll be signed -- with an "X" if necessary.
Instead of lurching into high dudgeon over the obvious security breaches, media reports ritually bash O'Keefe's acolytes, accusing them of everything from misrepresentation to criminal fraud.
O'Keefe responds that no "fraud" occurred because none of the ballots was actually cast. Still the media "push the narrative that I'm a criminal. This makes it difficult to break through with stories," he admits.
Fred Grimm, a Miami Herald columnist, typified the media's reactionary tone when he recently (a) downplayed evidence of voter fraud, and (b) childishly mocked reform initiatives.
"Florida seems to be spending a lot of time and effort and money trying to stomp out theoretical corruption instead of going after actual, real-life voter fraud," Grimm wrote.
"In 2011, the Legislature passed a 128-page election 'reform' bill that cut back on early voting, put new restrictions on third-party registration groups (like that famously subversive League of Women Voters), and eliminated the long-honored practice in Florida of allowing voters who have moved since the last election to register the change of address at the polls on Election Day."
State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, notes that the "long-honored" practice of switching addresses on Election Day is an invitation to jamming the system.
"Election Day is a voting day, not a registration event," he says.
Earlier this month, the state revealed that as many as 182,000 individuals on Floridas voter rolls may not be U.S. citizens. The Division of Elections has also identified as many as 53,000 deceased individuals who are still eligible to vote.
Three counties -- St. Johns, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa -- have more citizens registered to vote than people alive eligible to vote, according to the most recent Election Assistance Commission report.
In Volusia County, a citizens group called Spruce Creek Patriots found 526 names of registered voters who had moved out of the county.
Confirming Baxley's concerns, the group also reported that "hundreds" of students from Stetson and Bethune-Cookman universities were bused into Daytona's City Island library to vote -- even though many had voted absentee from their home address.
"They bragged about it," said Peggy Black, of the Spruce Creek group.
Black believes that the increasing use of absentee ballots also opens the doors to fraud and abuse by part-time residents.
"Snowbirds register to vote here because of Homestead Act. I have a friend who votes here and absentee in Connecticut," she says.
Yet, at a recent meeting at Lynn University, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher and her Broward County counterpart claimed that a state investigation could find just 18 cases of "real" election fraud in all of Florida.
Many election officials resist cleaning up the voter rolls as directed by the secretary of state. Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is one.
"I'm feeling really uncomfortable about this," the Democrat told officials with the state's Division of Elections.
O'Keefe says the media invariably portray election officials as well-intended public servants who are either unwitting dupesor simply overwhelmed in their jobs,
"The media will never say it's the system that's broken," O'Keefe says. "They look for every excuse under the sun -- lack of training, rogue employee, etc. But we're proving them wrong by doing hundreds of videos."
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Justice is turning a blind eye to the problem.
J. Christian Adams, formerly a lawyer at the department's Voting Section, said, "Not surprisingly, Holders DOJ has not brought a single case under a law to require states to clean up corrupted voter rolls. Indeed, the department made a November 2009 announcement that this provision would not be enforced.
Adams, who worked on the Philadelphia Black Panther voter intimidation case in 2008, said he resigned in protest of Holders "race-based" application of the law. In a forthcoming book, Adams alleges that:
- DOJ is engaged in a massive campaign to force states to become aggressive voter registration offices.
- States are infested with dead voters on the rolls.
- Investigations into eight states with widespread voter roll problems were spiked by Holder and his aides.
Adams singles outthe 1993 "Motor Voter" law as a prime vehicle for abuse. He argues that the innocuously titled National Voter Registration Act "turned state motor vehicle and welfare agencies into low-income voter registration offices."
"While capitalizing on the vote fraud swamping strategy enabled by the NVRA (which jams the system with hundreds of thousands of voter-registration forms immediately prior to elections), ACORN, Project Vote and others sue states that dont aggressively execute the voter registration activities," Adams relates.
Problems are further compounded when states loosened or abolished voter ID provisions that enabled O'Keefe & Co. to expose, on camera, the gaps in the voter verification process.
According to a report by the left-leaning Pew Research Center, approximately 24 million -- or 12.5 percent of voter registrations nationally -- are either invalid or inaccurate, including about 1.8 million deceased individuals, and 2.75 million with multiple-state registrations.
Meantime, O'Keefe's cameras keep rolling, and he's taking his notoriety in the press and the establishment in stride.
"When they attack, sue, indict and try to put you in jail, you must be doing something right," he laughs.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.