More undercover videos of ACORN workers apparently advising Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe on how to evade federal taxes on income from a fictitious brothel will be released to the media in coming weeks, Giles tells Newsmax.
In the meantime, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has filed suit in Maryland against Giles and O’Keefe, claiming civil damages under a Maryland law that requires consent of both parties before recording a “private conversation,” says Hiram Sasser, chief of litigation of Liberty Legal Institute, which is defending Giles free of charge.
As Giles tells it, she got the idea for the undercover videos while jogging past the ACORN office in southeast Washington. At the time, she was taking courses at the National Journalism Center.
“I knew about ACORN but really only the voter fraud stuff that I had seen on the news,” Giles says in a rare print interview. “And when I saw a sign for ACORN housing, I remembered the stuff about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and the mortgage crisis, and I was like, oh, and I was like, this is part of it. The dots started connecting in my mind. And as I was jogging, I was just thinking of how absurd the whole mortgage crisis was because people were in homes that they couldn’t afford. And that’s when the whole prostitute thing came up, and I thought what if a prostitute walked into an ACORN office and wanted to run her business out if it?”
Giles knew of James O’Keefe because of his undercover videos portraying underage pregnant teenagers seeking information about abortions from Planned Parenthood clinics.
“I saw a picture of James on Facebook, and I thought, 'Oh he might like this idea,'” Giles says. “I knew he had the experience of going under cover. I e-mailed him, and he really liked the idea and asked me when I could do it. From then, we started talking and planning the project. That was over the summer. Then the first day we went under cover was July 24th, and that’s when we did Philadelphia and Baltimore.”
In the videos, Giles poses as a prostitute, and O’Keefe poses as her pimp. They explain to ACORN workers that they plan to staff their brothel with underage girls from El Salvador. The workers are shown on the videos providing advice. As a result of the exposé, federal funds to ACORN have been cut off for now.
Although Maryland, California, and Pennsylvania have criminal laws requiring consent of all parties to a recorded conversation, only California has indicated it is examining whether the filmmakers violated a state criminal law, Sasser says. The Maryland statute includes a provision for claiming civil damages, enabling ACORN to sue Giles and O’Keefe.
Sasser says O’Keefe and Giles filmed in business offices open to the public where employees can be seen chattering, entering, and leaving. Thus, ACORN employees had no expectation that their conversations were private. The institute also will contend that O'Keefe's and Giles' activities have First Amendment protection because they were engaging in a journalistic effort.
Liberty Legal Institute has established www.defendhannah.com for those who want to donate to Giles’ defense. Her legal costs easily could exceed $1 million, Sasser says.
The daughter of a conservative pastor in Miami, Giles, 20, had just transferred to Florida International University for her third year of college when the videos came out. She is taking a semester off.
“I was looking through some old e-mails to friends about a year ago, and they said what do you want to be, what do you want to do, what are your ambitions?” she recalls. “I said I want to be an investigative journalist. I want to go under cover and expose government corruption. And I said the same thing to my intern coordinators, and now this thing has come out. It’s almost surreal.”
Giles has been besieged by supporters and detractors and by the media requesting interviews.
“My favorite responses are from soldiers and veterans who say thank you for serving our country,” Giles says. “It almost makes me want to cry, because they’re the ones serving our country. But I guess to them, while they’re fighting overseas, people are fighting back on the home front against corruption. I don’t want to see the American people used and abused, and that’s what’s being done with their money right now.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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