Echoing the recent report of the Kings County, NY, District Attorney who completed a five-month probe finding "no criminality" seen in video tapes secretly taken of low-level ACORN and ACORN Housing workers last year in New York, California's Attorney General has now reached a similar conclusion regarding videos recorded in three different cities in the Golden State last Summer, according to a report released today which finds the workers "committed no violation of criminal law."
While describing "highly inappropriate behavior" by some of the workers caught on secret video tapes made by Rightwing activists, CA AG Jerry Brown's report finds that "the evidence does not show that the ACORN employees in California violated state criminal laws in connection with their conversations" with activists posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend.
In a press release announcing his 28-page report [PDF] (and accompanying 55 pages of attachments and exhibits [PDF] with it), the AG's office says the publicly released videos taken in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino were "severely edited."
Brown's statement in the announcement is highly critical of Rightwing activists James O'Keefe III and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute and her law school boyfriend in the videos posted on Rightwing media mogul Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government" website last year and played extensively on Fox News, as well as other non-partisan media outlets.
"The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality," says Brown in the statement. "Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."
His report notes that the office's "investigation has involved attorneys from all three legal divisions – Criminal Law, Public Rights, and Civil Law – as well as Special Agents from the Department’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence" and included a review of "the unedited recordings made by O’Keefe and Giles."
In exchange for "immunity from prosecution," O'Keefe and Giles provided "the full, unedited videotapes" to Brown's office who, therefore, "did not determine if they violated California's Invasion of Privacy Act" when secretly recording the ACORN workers. Those workers, he notes in his report, may still "be able to bring a private suit against O'Keefe and Giles for recording a confidential conversation without consent."
O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart have previously refused to release the unedited footage of their videos publicly. Brown's report details why they likely did not wish to, as important, often exculpatory details from each encounter were not included in the edited versions, released to much partisan fanfare last year.
The unedited California videos have now been posted on the CA Attorney General's website. (They are also linked at the end of this article.) The press release also notes that the AG has unedited tapes from other cities outside of California as well. The BRAD BLOG has made a request for those videos from the office of the Attorney General.
The description of the videos as "severely edited" also echoes the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, which was quoted as describing them as a "heavily edited splice job" when his report was released several weeks ago.
Brown's report also echoes an independent investigation [PDF] released by former MA Attorney General Scott Harshbarger early last December, but unreported in the New York Times and many others. That report was commissioned by ACORN as an external review. In it, Harshbarger found serious organizational concerns with the four-decade old community organizing group, but "no pattern of criminality" as seen in any of the highly-edited, heavily-overdubbed video tape releases.
Despite repeated official investigations finding a complete lack of criminality in any of the O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart tapes --- other than by the filmmakers themselves, who may have broken the law in at least two different states by secretly taping workers --- ACORN recently announced that the publicity from the hoax videos had succeeded in drying up their private funding, and forced them to shutter their doors as of today.
Of the four ACORN employees O'Keefe and Giles met with in three different California cities, none "committed, solicited or conspired to commit any criminal acts," says Brown in his report. "There is no evidence that any of the ACORN employees had the intent to aid and abet such criminal conduct or agreed to join in [O'Keefe and Giles purported] illegal conduct."
The Attorney General also confirms that O'Keefe never appeared in any of the offices "dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp," as he had been edited to appear at the beginning and end of each of the videos. Neither did O' Keefe ever claim to be a pimp to any of the workers whose good natures, AG Brown says, O'Keefe and Giles preyed upon...