Who will sue the federal criminal next?...
UPDATE: Original false stories still posted, uncorrected, on Breitbart 'News' site...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2013, 5:35am PT  

Former San Diego ACORN worker, Juan Carlos Vera will receive $100,000 in a settlement from federal criminal and professional liar James O'Keefe, after being secretly video-taped in violation of California law by the Rightwing propagandist. The tape was just one in a series of similar videos, all deceptively edited as part of his 2009 ACORN "pimp" hoax series.

The story of the settlement to Vera's July 2010 civil lawsuit was originally broken by Wonkette, which published the 3-page settlement document [PDF], yesterday.

Several different official investigations, including those by the former MA Attorney General [PDF], by the Kings County, NY District Attorney, and by the CA Attorney General all determined that there were no violations of law performed by any ACORN worker seen in the several surreptitiously taped videos. The officials found the tapes were "highly" and "deceptively" edited.

The ACORN "pimp" hoax videos were published originally by the late Republican con-man Andrew Breitbart who, before he died of heart failure just over one year ago, was likely to have been pulled in to the civil case as well, after O'Keefe disclosed in his deposition that Breitbart had advance knowledge of the scheme to secretly video tape workers in violation of CA's Invasion of Privacy Act.

After Breitbart's publication, the edited tapes were widely covered, without fact-checking, in both the Rightwing media such as Fox "News" and non-Rightwing media such as the New York Times. The Times was eventually forced to issue partial-corrections for their inaccurate reporting after a six month effort by The BRAD BLOG to point out how they'd been duped by O'Keefe, who had lied about appearing as a 70s era blaxploitation "pimp" in the offices of ACORN.

A 2010 investigation by the CA Attorney General determined there was "no criminality" by ACORN workers seen in any of the raw video tapes. O'Keefe and his partner Hannah Giles agreed to turn over the unedited tapes in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution in the state. "The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality," California's then AG Jerry Brown said in a statement accompanying the release of his office's investigation which "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."

"Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor," he added.

While the deal left the AG's office unable to prosecute the duo, the criminal investigation found that O'Keefe and Giles likely violated the civil provisions of CA's Privacy Act and could be sued under those provisions "for recording a confidential conversation without consent." Vera, who, after his odd meeting with O'Keefe and Giles had the wherewithal to contact the police, sued both of them in July of 2010 for violations of the act...

Giles had the common sense to settle with Vera last summer after a string of losses in court. [Update: The BRAD BLOG confirms she agreed to pay $50,000 to Vera in that settlement.] O'Keefe, on the other hand, attempted to argue a First Amendment privilege as a "journalist" to secretly video tape Vera. Judge M. James Lorenz soundly rejected the argument in May of 2011, but O'Keefe persisted in his unsuccessful defense.

O'Keefe now finally faces at least some accountability in the settlement, which, in addition to agreeing to pay $100,000 to the former ACORN employee, notes that he "regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family."

Thousands of ACORN workers were left unemployed by the O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart stunt after the U.S. Congress also fell for it. In 2009, shortly after the deceptively edited tapes were released, they passed legislation, signed by President Obama, that federally defunded the four-decade old community organization which had advocated to end predatory lending practices and helped millions of low- and middle-income Americans obtain housing loans and legally register to vote. The group was forced to shut its door in the wake of the manufactured scandal.

While O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart helped perpetrate the long held GOP lie that ACORN was involved in voter fraud, there is not one piece of known evidence to demonstrate that even one illegal vote was ever cast thanks to an improper registration by any of the organization's tens of thousands of voter registration workers.

The only question now: Will any of those other ACORN workers who were improperly fired due to O'Keefe's illegal, secret video tapes file suit against him as well?

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UPDATE 2:27pm PT: Conor Friedersdorf's coverage of the Vera/O'Keefe settlement over at The Atlantic points out that, to this day, Breitbart's fake "news" site, where the fake ACORN stories were originally published, still has the original inaccurate story sliming Vera --- published as is, with no correction, even though it was long ago debunked as nonsense, and even since O'Keefe has agreed to apologize and pay him $100,000 in the settlement as described above.

Writes Friedersdorf:

After making Vera look like an eager would-be sex trafficker, what did Breitbart and O'Keefe do when it was reported that he had in fact called the police? What did they do when the California Attorney General investigated the case and affirmed as much? Did they append a correction to the story and apologize? Did they do what they could to give this man back his reputation?

They did not.

When last I wrote about this story in 2010, long after all the facts had come to light, there was no correction appended to the story. And look at the page today: The original story is still up with no correction, no clarification, no editor's note --- nothing.

The other stories in the ACORN series, similarly found to be nonsense, some of them almost immediately after publication, have also yet to be corrected. This one, for instance, made the case that an ACORN worker in San Bernardino had killed her husband. Yet, within hours of its publication, San Bernardino police had investigated and issued a statement including this important point: "From the initial investigation conducted, the claims do not appear to be factual. Investigators have been in contact with the involved party's known former husbands, who are alive and well."

Nonetheless, that original, if phony, story remains at the site, uncorrected even today, though the video itself is no longer embedded:

There were, however, quite literally, hundreds of stories posted about all of these phony videos on Breitbart's sites. The fake ACORN exposé was the one that Breitbart used on the day he premiered his original "Big Government" site. It's what launched him into the stratosphere of pretend Rightwing "journalists". ("Big Journalism", "Big Hollywood" and other "Big" sites quickly followed and all carried the ACORN videos and a great deal of commentary about them. They have all been folded into one place --- breaking many links in the process --- at Breitbart.com since then.) If Breitbart was to issue corrections, as a legitimate news sites would, they would have to issue literally hundreds, if not thousands of them across their site. That's just one reason they will likely never do so.

For example, Hannah Giles' October 28, 2009 story "LAMESTREAM MEDIA: WHY DID YOU BYPASS THESE JUICY ACORN NUGGETS?", in which she describes the San Bernardino ACORN worker having "shot her husband" (more than a month after it was known that she did no such thing), and Juan Carlos Vera having "want[ed] to help smuggle girls across the Mexican border right after an ACORN-sponsored immigration parade", which was also nonsense, as the settlements with Vera by both Giles and O'Keefe now attest, are still posted at the Breitbart site without correction or retraction.

That, of course, is because they have since moved on to publishing other phony stories, sliming other people, which they have similarly failed to correct or apologize for.

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