The activist filmmaker whose undercover ACORN exposes have pushed the Senate to block the organization's funding says he's willing to go to jail if that's the price to pay for his dramatic revelations.
"I'm not concerned," journalist James O'Keefe said on Tuesday evening's Glenn Beck program on Fox News. "I think it's not in their interest to come after me. And I'm willing to serve prison time for what I've found."
O'Keefe and colleague Hannah Giles shot a series of videos of ACORN employees advising them how to break the law to establish prostitution rings using 13-year-old girls from San Salvador.
When the videos came to the attention of Maryland State Attorney Patricia Jessamy, a Democrat, she focused not on the allegations against ACORN, but rather on whether the young filmmakers had violated Maryland laws against taping people without their consent.
That crime carries a penalty of up to five years in the state penitentiary.
O'Keefe told Beck on Tuesday he realizes the matter is "extremely serious" because "these people are breaking laws."
The surreptitious videotapes depict wrongdoing in ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The latest video, posted Tuesday afternoon to the BigGovernment.com site owned by new-media guru Andrew Breitbart, showed yet another ACORN employee, this time in San Bernardino, Calif., offering advice on how to set up the illegal enterprise. The latest video was reportedly shot on August 17.
"James O’Keefe and I posed a question and gathered the evidence," Hannah Giles stated in a post on the Web site. "We’ve run around this nation on a quest for truth unraveling the mystery of organized corruption. You decide."
O'Keefe told Beck that he had no idea the extent of wrongdoing his project would expose. Earlier this week, the Census Bureau, apparently acting in response to the growing scandal, announced they would no longer be contracting with ACORN to provide Census-related services.
"I thought I'd get maybe a couple of gotcha moments," O'Keefe told Beck of the videos. "But it was completely blown beyond everyone of my expectations. And they encouraged me, they encouraged all these laws to be broken."
O'Keefe said he determined early on that there was a systemic pattern of corruption.
"It occurred to me very quickly that this wasn't just an isolated incident," he told Beck. "It occurred to me almost immediately that this was a systematic thing that was happening. It wasn't just the people. It seemed like there was something deeper. They just had that sort of sense about them, that maybe they'd been trained or something, or taught to behave this way."
Responding to reports that well-heeled supporters had invested over $1 million to bankroll their expose, O'Keefe said the total expenses incurred by the new-media duo amounted to $1,300 – and he said he has the receipts to prove it.
Beck asked O'Keefe his motivation for exposing the activities of ACORN employees.
"Because I care about my country," he replied. "And . . . neither Hannah nor I fundamentally think the media cares about my country."
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