San Diego ACORN Worker Suing ‘Undercover Pimp’ James O’Keefe and Pals

by on July 13, 2010 · 8 comments

in Civil Rights, Media, Organizing, San Diego

By Gustav Wynn / OpEdNews / July 10, 2010

As was widely predicted, a former employee at the San Diego ACORN office has brought a lawsuit against right-wing activist journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles who surreptitiously recorded him while posing as a pimp and a half-naked hooker seeking accomplices in the commission of crimes of prostitution, statutory rape and kidnapping.

Juan Carlos Vera was fired after O’Keefe’s San Diego ACORN exposé was released. The segment seemed to show Vera discussing crimes agreeably. Called ‘undercover reporting’, the sting was shown to the world in exclusives given to hyper partisan Fox TV host Sean Hannity who wholly tarred ACORN for condoning underage prostitution and human trafficking.

After informing an unprecedented vote by Congress to defund ACORN (later found unconstitutional), ACORN was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing in the videos, and in particular the footage showing Vera was ordered investigated by California Attorney General Jerry Brown who cut a strange backroom deal with O’Keefe in exchange for access to the full unedited San Diego tapes.

Brown’s office reportedly agreed not to bring criminal charges against O’Keefe and Giles for violating state privacy laws. After reviewing the tapes however, Brown concluded the tapes were “severely edited”, suggesting Vera “may be able to bring a private suit”.

When the report was released, an April 2010 segment of the Rachel Maddow Show showed how Vera was taken out of context, suggesting to Congress and Fox viewers “you’ve been had” explaining that Hannity failed to mention Vera had notified the cops of O’Keefe’s criminal suggestions.

Instantly, MSNBC’s Maddow and the segment became the target of O’Keefe’s media handler Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart’s Big Journalism blogsite published a slew of rapid-response “articles” demonizing Maddow:

April 8: In “Maddow: O’Keefe Hid Important Facts About ACORN!!!!” author “Patterico” calls Maddow’s piece “pointless” oddly claiming O’Keefe never misled the public about being dressed in garish pimp garb, followed by crass comments calling Maddow “tuna breath” and “Ralph Macchio”.

April 9: In reply to Larry O’Connor’s “Maddow Leaves Truth On the Cutting Room Floor” one comment calls Maddow “a crazy man” while another says Maddow “blocks and tackles for ACORN when they’re caught red-handed in child sex trafficking of Latinas”.

April 11: Ben Shapiro’s attack piece “Rachel Maddow and Gov. Moonbeam Cover Up the Real ACORN Scandal” mocked Maddow for having a “husky baritone” voice and looking like various male actors.

April 19: Andrew Marcusin’s “Exposing Rachel Maddow As a Fraud In 16 Seconds Flat” paints Maddow a “soulless shill who makes excuses for an organization which repeatedly exhibited a willingness to commit federal crimes involving the sexual exploitation of immigrant children”.

Andrew Breitbart never tried to hide that he had been paying O’Keefe for this brand of investigative reporting, but O’Keefe hid other funding ties between himself and shadowy rich benefactors as unearthed by one Village Voice report.

O’Keefe’s videos have shown ACORN employees giving improper advice in Brooklyn and Baltimore, but because his evidence gathering methods baldly constitute entrapment, no charges could ever be filed. Then too, the attempt to broad brush the entire organization showed how Fox TV, Hannity’s radio show and Breitbart’s websites make up a well bankrolled mass messaging operation coordinated with GOP members of Congress.

Vera’s legal complaint is pretty cut and dry, alleging that O’Keefe and Giles asked him to keep their conversation confidential and then aired selectively edited recordings of it. Vera is seeking compensation for violation of his privacy rights according to California’s 1967 Invasion of Privacy act.

Since airing the ACORN recordings, O’Keefe has been convicted of misdemeanor charges involving another ‘undercover’ investigation. According to O’Keefe, he was attempting to film phone workers checking Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s phones in an attempt to embarrass her for not answering the many calls opposed to her vote on healthcare.

The phone workers were actually O’Keefe’s activist pals again playing dress up, however, resulting in convictions for entering federal property under false pretenses. At his sentencing, O’Keefe explained that he will continue his investigations using “other means”.

O’Keefe was also sued January in federal court by an employee he taped in the Philadelphia ACORN office, but another lawsuit brought against O’Keefe by ACORN in Baltimore was dropped for inaction after ACORN was dissolved.

Vera’s lawsuit will be interesting as O’Keefe tries to bring his partisan opinions about ACORN into a legal proceeding. Sean Hannity was already caught last fall falsifying video to make his cases stronger but it is unknown whether he will be dragged into the suit as one of twenty “John Does” mentioned in the complaint.

Supporters of Vera have launched a Facebook page where people can join in agreement Vera is owed redress. Vera’s camp asserts his conversation with O’Keefe was meant to elicit information to feed to the police, while O’Keefe’s supporters continue to suggest Vera was tantalized by “Eden” the naughty young prostitute portrayed by Giles and that he unquestionably wad trying to help this pair of strangers convert young girls into sex workers.

In a potential damages inquiry, it could come out that neither Hannity or any Fox staff made any known attempt to solicit a statement from Vera prior to airing claims against his character in a rush to the wrong judgment.

Please go to the original here for more of the links that we failed to install.

Editor Update: Dave Maass of San Diego CityBeat originally broke this story. He sent these:

If you want to see the complaint, click here:

And here’s CityBeat’s original breaking story:

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Lori Lee July 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I do hope that FOX News and Hannity are sued for millions. Slander and libel are crimes. It would be great if Hannity had as much honor and honesty as Vera but he obviously does not. Don’t let this story die…make sure this man’s reputation is cleared. Fox needs to apologize and not a one liner, they need to spend an hour exposing O’Keefe and vindicating Vera. To destroy a man’s life with lies just for ratings and to pump to the tea baggers is sick. As for O’Keefe and friends they weren’t posing as a pimp and prostitute, they are a pimp and prostitute.


avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Faux News flubs facts for falsification of fantastical claims? Shocking!


avatar Mike m July 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Republican slime … I would hope there are a few good republicans that begin to point out that the new conservatives without conscience do not speak for all Republicans. CLEAN OUT YOU SLIME, INCLUDING SEAN HANNITY!!!!! He is such a moron.


avatar annagrace July 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm

O’Keefe and Giles, with the blessing and financial backing of the usual suspects, created a F$ck-u-mentary. It was NOT undercover reporting. Puh-leaze! And it wasn’t merely “edited” . It was cynically and cravenly manipulated. The Pimp Daddy/Ho Mama “costumes” were added later. (If I am recalling correctly, O’Keefe actually appeared in a button down long sleeve shirt and looked like your basic YAF’er. ) And what was omitted is extremely telling. I hope Mr. Vera is successful in his lawsuit, and I personally will throw some bucks his way to help him in that pursuit.

I hope that the unedited San Diego tapes are made available to the public. I would like to see all of the tapes made available to the public. Despite the exoneration of ACORN, the organization has been crushed. Who was the winner in that one? Certainly not justice.

We live in a scoundrel time. Again.


avatar Dave Maass July 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

You’ll notice that the link to the document doesn’t work. You know why? Wynn used CityBeat’s link to the document, without attributing CityBeat as the original breakers of the story. So, we changed the link.

If you want to see the complaint, click here:

And here’s our original breaking story:


avatar Frank Gormlie July 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Dave Maass, thanks for the link and thanks for breaking the story.


avatar Gus Wynn July 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm

After learning of the chronology, I updated the above article crediting City Beat with a link. – Gus Wynn


avatar Cold-Blooded Liberal July 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Is it true that Juan is only suing for $75,000? If so then he should be darn near sainted. He is a waaaay much better person than I could ever be.

I would have tied up this real-life Beastman and Evil-Lyn with so much civil litigation that they would need lawyers when they’re wheeling around in the nursing home–or long dead and reduced to ashes in the hot place
Get ’em Juan!


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