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James O'Keefe
Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe speaks to stu­dents in Mossey Library’s Her­itage Room on guer­rilla jour­nalism upon invi­tation from Hillsdale College Repub­licans.
Randy Keefe | Courtesy

Hillsdale College Repub­licans brought James O’Keefe, the con­tro­versial political activist best known for his under­cover videos of the com­munity activist group ACORN’s workers, to campus to speak and sign books April 7. Stu­dents received free copies of O’Keefe’s book “Break­through: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy” at the lecture.

O’Keefe dis­cussed several case studies in his career prac­ticing what he calls “guerilla jour­nalism” and addressed ques­tions on the legality and ethics of his tech­niques. College Repub­licans paid O’Keefe no speaking fee for the event.

O’Keefe is pres­ident of Project Veritas, an orga­ni­zation he founded in 2010 to “inves­tigate and expose cor­ruption, dis­honesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other mis­conduct in both public and private insti­tu­tions in order to achieve a more ethical and trans­parent society.”

His tar­geted under­cover inves­ti­ga­tions of Asso­ci­ation of Com­munity Orga­ni­za­tions for Reform Now workers and other high-profile orga­ni­za­tions have gen­erated frenzied media cov­erage since 2008. In 2010, O’Keefe was arrested with partners in New Orleans, Louisiana, when attempting to record a gov­ernment official. He was charged with a mis­de­meanor for attempting to gain access to federal property under false pre­tenses.

“I thought it was very inter­esting,” said sophomore Claudia Sladick, College Repub­licans chair­woman. “I was not aware of many of the things he has done in his career, and I’m glad we had him on campus to share with us.”

The College Repub­licans invited O’Keefe to speak, even though his tactics are con­tro­versial, because he is an influ­ential voice in national pol­itics.

“O’Keefe has been on the front lines of exposing modern lib­er­alism throughout the country,” said sophomore Michael Luc­chese, College Repub­licans trustee. “Even though his tactics may be con­tro­versial, he has exposed many important things, and we thought it would be good to bring him to campus and have him educate the Hillsdale elec­torate.”