James O'Keefe Can't Fundraise In Florida Anymore, On Account Of How He Is A Criminal
Last year, James O'Keefe and Project Veritas raised $4.8 million to fund their wacky hidden camera miseditventures, with most of that coming from creepy conservative billionaire donors.
Next year, that might be a little more difficult. The Washington Post reports that Florida, which one would imagine is where a lot of those donors live, has banned O'Keefe from doing any fundraising in the state. Why? Well, for the same reason he is banned from fundraising in Utah, Mississippi and Wisconsin -- he has a felony conviction.
You see, back in 2010, O'Keefe was arrested in Louisiana for entering a U.S. senator's office with two other men who were posing as phone repairmen. Like you do, if you are Lucy and Ethel. He was subsequently charged and convicted of fraud.
Florida thinks it is a bad idea for people who have been convicted of fraud to be allowed to fundraise in their state. This is actually a very good idea, and it would be great to see all the states follow suit. New York is trying to bar him from fundraising in their state as well. Quite frankly, I think people who have been convicted of fraud -- any of them, not just James O'Keefe -- ought to be barred from fundraising just on principle.
However, it is probably most important in a state like Florida where so many retirees live. There are a lot of bad people out there who like to go around scamming older people, and it is certainly a relief to know that the state has at least one law in place to keep that from happening.
Florida's ban applies only to O'Keefe, however, and not the Project Veritas organization as a whole. As the Post points out, however, "O’Keefe is the public face of the organization, is in charge of fundraising and has signed email solicitations." Essentially they'd have to hire someone else to be in charge of fundraising outside of Florida.
O'Keefe and Project Veritas have failed, on many occasions to disclose his felon status to states when registering. This is because, according to his spokesperson, he was not the official president of the non-profit until 2011, despite having started it, himself, in 2010. Additionally, he and his representatives have often referred to him as having been president of Project Veritas "since it's inception."
The Post explains why this is an issue.
The timeline could become important in states that are trying to determine whether the charity properly disclosed O’Keefe’s conviction — and his role in the organization — when seeking licenses to solicit money. Registration statements submitted to several states for the year 2010 make no mention of O’Keefe, records show.
The question remains, however, if he wasn't the President of the group he founded then, who was? And should they have to refile for these licenses now that he is the president, and has a felony conviction? It seems like they probably should.
Hopefully, other states will follow Florida's trend, which would do a lot not only to protect their citizens from giving money to a convicted fraudster, but also curtail Project Veritas' campaign of bullshit and misinformation. Two birds, one stone! Hooray!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse