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.”