Cops Blame James O'Keefe for Sinking Investigation into His Voter Fraud Sting

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There's no publicity in the follow-up. Conservative activist James O'Keefe earned praise for secretly taping Virginia Rep. Jim Moran's son Patrick seemingly giving advice on how to commit voter fraud in October, but three months later law enforcement has closed their investigation because, they say, O'Keefe wouldn't cooperate.

Patrick Moran resigned from his Democratic dad's campaign immediately following the video's release and cops, as well as commentators who generally don't cheer on O'Keefe's stunts, took it seriously enough to open a criminal investigation. Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ArlingtonPatch's Jason Spencer that both of the Morans cooperated with the investigators. But what they really needed to make a case was the full, raw video, and O'Keefe wouldn't hand it over. "Who knows what else could be on the video? Our detective wanted to request those two things, and that party failed to comply," Sternbeck told Patch. "We want the full version. That's our job, to do a thorough investigation. And that's a huge piece of the process right there." Update: Sternbeck tells The Atlantic Wire the lead detective spoke to O'Keefe on several occasions.

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In the Moran tape, the Project Veritas reporter asks Patrick how to get around voter ID laws with a list of 100 inactive voters. Moran explains, "There will be a lot of voter protection... So, if they just have — you know just the utility bill or bank statement — bank statement would obviously be tough — but, they can fake a utility bill with ease.... You have to forge it."

In October, Patrick Moran released a statement told Politico, "…[A]t no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there  is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior, joking or not."

Why wouldn't O'Keefe turn over his video? He's faced criticism for selectively editing his undercover video in the past. O'Keefe and his Project Veritas gained famed for his 2009 undercover video that showed ACORN employees appearing to give advice to people dressed in a ridiculous pimp costume on how to smuggle teen prostitutes and evade. It was later revealed to be edited -- O'Keefe didn't dress as a pimp for the interviews. The tapes killed ACORN. O'Keefe's NPR sting, in which Project Veritas pretended to be Muslim Brotherhood members interested in donating to public radio in a meeting with NPR executives, was edited to make it sound like an NPR executive laughed at the advocacy of sharia law.

O'Keefe wasn't protecting whoever taped Moran. Virginia is a one-party consent state, meaning only one participant in a conversation has to consent for it to be taped. The videographer could not face charges. So why not turn over the tape? 

Update: O'Keefe emails this statement: "The video and the subsequent actions of both Patrick Moran and Congressman Moran speak for themselves. What we saw on the video was so obviously damning and inappropriate that Pat Moran immediately resigned, and his father's office released a statement saying that what he had done was wrong. I don't need to make any comment beyond that."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.