September 23, 2009

ACORN Commits Suicide

They've decided to sue James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles in Maryland.

How will they do that and avoid making their records available through discovery?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 23, 2009 05:49 PM

I am not a lawyer, and I have not seen the filings, but I am going to guess that the filings are very carefully worded to mention only the fact of the allegedly illegal voice recordings, with no mention of why the recordings were made, just that they were.

I think that will limit discovery to pretty much safe territory.

As usual, public safeguards will work against us.

Posted by: Larry Sheldon at September 23, 2009 06:34 PM

Break out the popcorn

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at September 23, 2009 06:36 PM

>>"The liberal activist group contends that the audio portion of the video was obtained illegally because Maryland requires two-party consent to create sound recordings."

Maryland does not require two-party consent for sound recordings.

Posted by: Steve at September 23, 2009 06:48 PM

What the hell is ACORN?

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 23, 2009 06:59 PM

ACORN is an organization that helps poor people and for that reason it's been targeted by Republican operatives. Don't you listen to NPR? You would know these things.

Posted by: zhombre at September 23, 2009 07:32 PM


These folks (ACORN)need to be put out of business, but I'm afraid you are mistaken about the Maryland law...

Under Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, it is unlawful to tape record a conversation without the permission of all the parties. See Bodoy v. North Arundel Hosp., 945 F.Supp. 890 (D. Md. 1996). Additionally, recording with criminal or tortuous purpose is illegal, regardless of consent. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-402.

Disclosing the contents of intercepted communications with reason to know they were obtained unlawfully is a crime as well.

Violations of the law are felonies punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of not more than $10,000. Civil liability for violations can include the greater of actual damages, $100 a day for each day of violation or $1,000, along with punitive damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. To recover civil damages, however, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew it was illegal to tape the communication without consent from all participants. MD. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-410.

This is from The Reporters committee for freedom of the press.

All that being said, if what they did is indeed illegal, how is it that the tv stations get away with 'ambush interviews'?


Posted by: PeterT at September 23, 2009 08:29 PM


All that is well and good, but you're talking about criminal law, and APORN is bringing a civil case.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at September 23, 2009 08:43 PM

Actually it's a civil case based on criminal complaints. The AG refused to pursue it and decided the best avenue would be to file criminal complaints for further litigation. There could actually be prison sentences involved with it. Unfortunately these videos prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Giles and O'Keefe broke the law. Little bit of irony if you like that sort of thing, ha.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 23, 2009 08:54 PM


Racketeering-Influenced Corrupt Organization for Radical Non-Whites.

Posted by: Zeek at September 23, 2009 09:31 PM

Everyone keep an eye out for a link for a defense fund.

I plan on giving as much as I can to them.

After Acorn loses, I hope they counter sue the bastards.

Papa Ray
Central Texas

Posted by: Papa Ray at September 23, 2009 09:46 PM

Maryland does not require two-party consent for sound recordings.

Note that for a civil suit to prevail the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendants knew the taping was illegal.

Good luck with that.

how is it that the tv stations get away with 'ambush interviews'?

They do them in public, where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Posted by: Tully at September 23, 2009 10:18 PM

zhombre, ACORN is a corporation that has received multiple millions of dollars in tax payer funding and they intimidate banks into giving loans to people who can't afford them, register democrats and other phony Americans, and give advice on skirting U.S. laws and basic decency. Thus Obama made sure they were a partner in the U.S. Census based on their total respectability and attention to accuracy because as we all know the census is extremely important. That was after he spoke to their group and assured them that he would enthusiastically request their help in shaping the agenda for his administration - youtube it - it'll give you a tingle up your leg just like Chris Matthews.

Posted by: Jayne at September 23, 2009 10:19 PM

Thanks, Jayne, but I knew that. The irony lamp was lit when I posted that. But I have liberal friends who get all their news from NPR and, nice people that they are, about many issues they are clueless.

Posted by: zhombre at September 23, 2009 10:35 PM

From Roxanne, 1987 movie with Steve Martin:

[Roxanne Kowalski is walking behind a hedge because she is nude]
Roxanne Kowalski: Nobody had a coat?
C.D. Bales: I thought you said you didn't want a coat...
Roxanne Kowalski: Why would I not want a coat?
C.D. Bales: You said you didn't want a coat!
Roxanne Kowalski: I was being ironic.
C.D. Bales: Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony's not really a, a high priority. We haven't had any irony here since about, uh, '83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.

Posted by: zhombre at September 23, 2009 10:37 PM

I don't know exactly where to search, but I have heard that there is a journalist shield law that protects investigative journalists from the electronic surveillance law.

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 12:09 AM

Looks like the case will turn on whether or not the Acorn slimes had "a reasonable expecation of privacy". Something I would reasonably expect they did NOT have. Of course, it depends how many lefty kooks they pack the jury with.

The real solution is to conduct retaliatory lawfare. Such as finding someone with standing to file personal lawsuits against the crooks who run Acorn....

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 12:19 AM

"Note that for a civil suit to prevail the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendants knew the taping was illegal. " -- Actually, that's the responsibility of the tapers and not the taped. These wannabe journalists should have familiarized themselves with the law prior to undertaking their operation. By not doing so, they are guilty by negligence.

Discovery goes both ways. Now Giles and O'Keefe will have to turn over ALL the raw, unedited tapes from ALL the ACORN offices they visited. Giles and O'Keefe are now going to have to show WHY they undertook this operation in concocting an elaborate scheme involving underage sex traffic and prostitution. Are there previous statements and/or witnesses to this specific kind of illegal behavior on behalf of ACORN and if not, why would they concoct such an elaborate scheme if not for the sole purpose of embarrassment and harassment.

Remember also that these ACORN representatives broke no laws. The underage sex traffic and prostitution idea/scheme was created by Giles and O'Keefe and not ACORN. These reps can easily say they knew it was all a hoax and played along with it and the burden to prove differently is on Giles and O'Keefe which will be impossible for them to do. This is why Giles and O'Keefe should have filled out the paperwork and allowed these reps to process the paperwork knowing their criminal intent. That way ACORN would be implicated in criminal conspiracy activity. Real journalists would have known to do that. That way, this lawsuit and any future lawsuits (and you can bet there will be more) wouldn't have any merit due to the organization's self-incriminating behavior.

Giles, O'Keefe and Breitbart are going to have to prove they did what they did for the social good as journalists or to target, harass and cause irreparable harm to the organization's reputation for political interests. Discovery of ALL the raw, unedited tapes from ALL the offices they visited will definitely shed light on this issue. Keep in mind, they've already been caught in several lies concerning their "operation" and depending on the outcome of this litigation, will undoubtedly be facing more litigation in each state they visited. They should have filled out the paperwork.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 12:40 AM


You write:
>They do them in public, where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Would one have such a reasonable expectation in a corporate workplace? This is normally represented in an employee manual, although the Acorn manuals I've found so far are exceptionally poor substitutes for such a document. As a information technology and security risk expert for a Fortune 500 financial firm, I'm well aware that we not only monitor employee instant messaging, emails, web usage and other activities, but specify in our policy that there should be no reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace. This policy specification also provides for our video monitoring of workplace environments (particularly necessary when you handle checks and credit cards) and for the other controls that may result in the digital recording of employee behavior within the workplace.

Would one expect an employee at ACORN to be subject to such monitoring? In the event the employee ever encounters PII (personally identifiable information), especially financial information (credit card, debit card, checking account), the industry practice answer is a certain yes. Controls recommended in PCI (Payment Card Industry), for instance, would provide for such monitoring. Do we have the express written consent of an employee prior to their being recorded on a camera in Maryland or any other state? Of course not; they've received training that they are subject to the various privacy programs and controls the company may deem necessary to protect the confidentiality of our customer's data.

Given that Acorn was dealing with PII (social security numbers, names, addresses, etc.), there should be no reasonable expectation of privacy given the expectation that Acorn would institute monitoring controls. Should Acorn have failed to document such expectations, the industry practice still should prevail and if anything, this is further indication that Acorn has failed in the application of appropriate controls over PII and financial data (something I would expect to encounter given the data I've seen so far).

Conclusion: These employees had no such expectation of privacy in a workplace handling PII/financial data.

Posted by: HatlessHessian at September 24, 2009 12:40 AM

"a reasonable expectation* of privacy" -- is already established in Maryland's law.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 12:42 AM

You're wrong hatless -- the reasonable practice would be conducted by the company itself in which the employees would be aware and by taking jobs with the organization, would have consented to being monitored and recorded. Usually this type of monitoring involves video only and that in many states, it's a felony to audio record somebody without their consent. This does not apply to a pimp and a prostitute who are not doing what they did for PII. If Giles and O'Keefe were to embark on this operation for the purpose of PII, then they would need the organization's permission and/or a regulatory agency's permission and STILL, the reps at ACORN would need to be notified as per Maryland's law. And most certainly, audio recording would have been forbidden.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 12:48 AM

That is for a court to decide, not a lefty with situational ethics.

As for the discovery phase, I highly doubt that the discovery will be able to extend to tapes made outside of that particular office. Which is a pity because it will show even more Acorn corruption

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 12:49 AM

It's not situational ethics, it's the law and us lefties knew it all along. 8>)

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 12:53 AM

>>"Under Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, it is unlawful to tape record a conversation without the permission of all the parties."

The law does not say any such thing. Go ahead and cite the relevant language from the Act if you can.

Posted by: Steve at September 24, 2009 07:17 AM

Why is that disgusting pedophile Timmy Evans being allowed to post here?

Posted by: Steve at September 24, 2009 07:19 AM

Because ACORN and their fine educated state-of-the-art Jewish lawyers got me out of it and a huge cash settlement while bankrupting the defendants 50 times over in making them defend themselves. You know how it works, all the best Conservatives always have the best Liberal lawyers.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 08:50 AM

One can gauge Lipiwitz's knowledge of the law by the fact L seems to think that we have private prosecutions leading to jail sentences in the US, when this is a purely civil suit. The actual filing can be found HERE.

Maryland law does indeed require proof that the tapers knew they were violating the relevant two-party-consent law in order for the plaintiffs to recover civil damages. (See claim #13 in the suit, which claims "knowing AND had reason to know." "Reason to know" is not enough to collect damages, the plaintiff must prove positive knowledge. Difficult.)

This is further complicated by Maryland's shield law for press. Note that all three plaintiffs are claiming damages for "loss of reputation," a claim that is a naked attempt to end-run the absolute-truth defense for defamation by trying to recast a defamation claim as something else, something which has failed to fly in court on the 4th Circuit before. See the Food Lion case, wherein the court dismissed such attempts and noted that the damage to reputation was caused not by the publication of plaintiff's embarrassing actions, but by the actions themselves.

Also note that once you remove the "reputation" claims the only remaining damage claims are those of the two employees for loss of employment and emotion distress, damages caused at least in part by their co-plaintiff, ACORN. The defendants didn't fire anyone, and ACORN itself will find a judge rather non-sympathetic to their being a party to claims for damages they themselves caused. It would be LOL irony if Breitbart et al dragged ACORN in as a third-party defendant....

Yes, Maryland has an anti-SLAPP statute tied directly to the First Amendment. That could also come into play, as ACORN has a history of SLAPP suits against anyone who stings them with truths. Discovery could be really really fun, as the defendants can explore just about everything related to ACORN's hiring, training, and operational practices.

No call on the "expectation of privacy" issue. Not enough information yet available, but generally employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace, as employers generally have an inherent right to supervise employee conduct, especially when the personal financial information of others is involved.

Posted by: Tully at September 24, 2009 10:00 AM

no lipi, it is merely your facile interpretation of the law.

The Acorn representatives had no reasonable expectation of privacy when in an office conducting business. Leon Wolfe has a nice discussion of some of the applicable law on redstate.

So the privacy consideration is reasonably out, which eliminates use of the wiretapping law if the "reasonable expectation" were not enough. Truth is always the best defense against defamation. And the Acorn has as much admitted that the firing was unjustified--putting it at risk for an employee lawsuit for unjustified firing. Nice

And this assures that Obama's Acorn will remain in the news for a while longer. Though possibly going around some more and blathering like a lefty kook about eliminating nuclear weapons, blaming the USA for the world's problems, and pontificating about the biggest non-problem in the world Global Warming will distract attention from Obama's Acorn.

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 04:27 PM

The trailer park "Woodward and Bernstein" will also be facing multiple suits in California and Pennsylvania as well. Maybe they can go back to Joe Thiel and get another $30,000 "grant" to pay for 10 minutes of their attorney's billable time to defend themselves from the first $30,000 "grant".

And how many more times if Breitbart going to claim how much he supports Giles and O'Keefe who PRODUCED, EDITED and SUBMITTED THESE VIDEOS?!?!? We get it're blaming it on the kids. We get it!!!

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 24, 2009 05:29 PM

I find it ironic that Lipiwitz, who on other strings at this site has recited ad nauseum that he has no interest in this matter, is the one defending ACORN and their former employees.

Posted by: Michel Smith at September 24, 2009 05:37 PM

we get it lipi--Acorn and its affiliates like SEIU plan on conducting lawfare to discourage any further investigations.

However, since the truth is the best defense against defamation lawsuits I would guess that the CA suit has little chance of going anywhere. Philly? well, how exactly will anyone sue for damages in Philly? I thought the Acorn enablers refused to help O'Keefe and Giles? Maybe because the Acorn workers weren't offered enough juice on the deal?

Great group of scumbags you have chosen to ally yourself with, lipi. Not surprising for someone on the left--most lefty organizations are as ethical as Tammany Hall, but with fewer scruples.

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 05:43 PM

btw, does effectively calling Giles and O'Keefe trailer trash qualify as hate speech? If someone described Van Jones as ghetto scum, would that be hate speech?

just asking if lipi thinks all people who live in trailer parks, ghettos, barrios, and similar places are trash undeserving of any consideration or respect.

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 07:37 PM

zhombre, I have liberal acquaintances - I can't call them friends - who state that Republicans targeted ACORN just to get at Obama, so I don't see irony as often as I see stupidity.

Posted by: Jayne at September 24, 2009 11:36 PM

Keep f***ing that chicken, Lipiwitz. You've really jumped the shark. It sounds like you're getting your legal talking points from those lefty human rights lawyers who are such experts on international law surrounding torture. Heh! Keep that caterpillar away from me you brute!

Posted by: daleyrocks at September 24, 2009 11:57 PM


That is just mouth-dropping unbelievable for any Obama supporter to utter. So further investigative journalism should explore further into the world of underage immigrants forced into prostitution in order to target Obama? Really?

Of course, for real prostitutes one doesn't have to go much farther than MSNBC....

Posted by: iconoclast at September 24, 2009 11:59 PM

Here is something interesting:

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 25, 2009 12:51 AM

"So further investigative journalism should explore further into the world of underage immigrants forced into prostitution" -- And exactly WHO'S idea was it to have underage immigrants forced into prostitution? Was it ACORN's or was it Giles and O'Keefe's? You can go to YouTube and replay the videos if you need reminding before answering the question as to WHO'S idea it was to have underage immigrants forced into prostitution. Obviously Giles and O'Keefe are not engaging in underage sex traffic and prostitution activities but neither is ACORN. The idea was Giles and O'Keefe's.

The disgusting aspect of this whole ACORN McCarthyism is the mainstream media. ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CBS, NY Times, Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times...all of them. Of all the accusations and allegations against ACORN from all the Right-wing opinion generators, pundits and Republicans and their echo chamber, not one single member of the mainstream media ever asked any of them "where's your proof?" Never was there a "truth" litmus over this 3 year, non-stop partisan campaign of lies against ACORN and the Right's attempt to tie them in with every Democrat and RINO they could find.

The truth has finally been revealed:

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 25, 2009 05:38 AM

"not one single member of the mainstream media ever asked any of them "where's your proof?""

No one asked "where's your proof" because they were capable of watching the video tapes to see for themselves that ACORN employees and supervisors freely, repeatedly offered their official advice on:
* the best ways to smuggle underage sex slaves into the U.S.,
* the best ways to commit tax fraud by claiming these underage sex slaves as dependents to the IRS, and
* the best ways for the pimp-turning-politician to use cutouts and fake fronts to politically shield himself from his illegal sources of income.

No non-pedophile wants any of their taxpayer money going to sponsor an organization that's advising people on how to maximize their profits while sexually exploiting young girls.

And that's why non-pedophiles are universally repulsed by ACORN's nationwide behaviour, and why government agencies that are involved with ACORN are scrambling to dissociate themselves from such a scummy and exploitative organization.

Posted by: Lipsfullofshit at September 25, 2009 06:19 AM

Federal Whistle Blower Laws should protect them from any suit.

Posted by: Frank at September 25, 2009 06:48 AM

Federal Whistle Blower Laws? Have you even read the Federal Whistle Blower Laws? Can you even read? Go read up on the Federal Whistle Blower Laws Frank and then decide if these two hacks qualify.

And Lipsfullofmaturityandintelligence...talking about a crime is not illegal. DOING a crime is illegal. And the idea of sexually exploiting young girls was Giles and O'Keefe's according to the videos you hold so sacred. You're accusing ACORN of being pedophiles but by your own logic, it's Giles and O'Keefe who on the videos, are self-admitted pedophiles. Soon to be so far in debt it ain't even funny self-admitted pedophiles.

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 25, 2009 04:13 PM

Interesting stuff:

On September 23, Los Angeles Times media critic James Rainey reported that ACORN official Lavelle Stewart "told me this week" that when conservative videographers James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles came to Stewart's ACORN office in Los Angeles disguised as a pimp and prostitute, Stewart "tried to get the 'prostitute,' who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center." Stewart's reported statement and a police report filed by officials at ACORN's Philadelphia office undermine O'Keefe's and Giles' claims that they were never rebuffed at any of the ACORN offices they visited, and the videographers have yet to release the Los Angeles and Philadelphia videos.
"And visits to other ACORN offices have gone almost entirely unmentioned. Lavelle Stewart, a fair-housing coordinator in the group's Los Angeles office, told me this week that she tried to get the "prostitute," who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center.

"The fact she was not taking the help I offered her made me think something was not right," Stewart said. "It raised a red flag."


San Diego ACORN official also reported duo to police following encounter. In a September 22 article, the Associated Press reported that California police said an ACORN worker contacted them about "possible human smuggling":
Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.
National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.
Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple's high-profile expose.
Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.
The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.

And you honestly believe these hacks are NOT getting sued? Come on!

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 25, 2009 04:57 PM

More from mainstream media's decision to practice journalistic integrity today:

O'Keefe's dismissal of ACORN's claim that "the videos were doctored" undermined by report that they were. O'Keefe reportedly dismissed ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis' claim that the secretly filmed videos were doctored, stating, "They've lied every step of the way." But one video that reportedly "left out" an ACORN employee's statement that it would have nothing to do with a prostitution business undermines O'Keefe's claim. According to a report by CNN's Casey Wian that aired on the September 17 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, the videographers edited San Bernardino ACORN organizer Tresa Kaelke's statement that ACORN would not associate itself with prostitution. Wian said: "Left out of the originally released tape but included in a transcript the filmmakers later released is Kaelke's statement that ACORN would have nothing to do with their prostitution business."

Posted by: Lipiwitz at September 25, 2009 05:02 PM

Lipiwitz - Edited tape is not the same thing as doctored tape. Sorry, your claim does not fly. The ACORN employees have not been accused of any crimes that I am aware, only stupidly conspiring on tape to commit them if O'Keefe and Giles had gone further with their scam. To claim otherwise as you imply is false.

Your strawmen of the Philadelphia and LA office visits are just that at this point. Compare what O'Keefe, Gilea and Breitbart have said with your pillowbiting, bedwetting assertions. Nothing you have put forward contradicts what they have said. If you cannot see that you are even less intelligent than I thought.

If you want to accuse conservatives of spreading lies about ACORN, have the testicular fortitude to lay them out in a comment and defend them. Mkay?

Keep f***ing that chicken. I'm glad you don't care about this, 'cause it's sure taking up a bunch of your time.

Posted by: daleyrocks at September 25, 2009 07:48 PM

These reps can easily say they knew it was all a hoax and played along with it

At which point their lawsuit collapses, since they chose to play along, aka "consented".

Furthermore, since it was only a hoax and the employees didn't mean it, why did ACORN fire them?

It should be no surprise that the Obama puppet is defending the ACORN criminals. What's really funny is that the Obama puppet doesn't think that Breitbart, et al., were aware of this possibility all along and have planned for it -- including how to use it to inflict maximum damage on Barack Obama and his support and endorsement of ACORN's criminal behavior.

Posted by: North Dallas Thirty at September 26, 2009 01:24 AM

Lipiwitz - The Democrats in the House put a cutoff in ACORN funding in the continuing budget resolution. Open your good eye and at least see what the stiffs in your own party see.

Posted by: daleyrocks at September 26, 2009 10:53 AM

I'm very interested to know EVERYTHING about the wonderful "community organizers" at ACORN.
- HOW do they train their "get out the vote" specialists? Do they teach forgery as competently as tax evasion?
- Why is this organization NOT recognized as a partisan organization by the federal or state government? Could they be playing the race card, perhaps?
- When will our "representatives" finally investigate this organization that has received taxpayer funding for how long?

Posted by: nomoretaxmoneytoacorn at September 26, 2009 04:28 PM