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James O’Keefe III: political committee created in his name is ‘fraudulent’

O’Keefe said Project Veritas’ lawyer, Benjamin Barr, is submitting complaints and requests for investigation to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FEC.

O’Keefe provided the Center for Public Integrity with copies of the letters from Barr to the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission. The letters state the creators of the PAC “fraudulently misrepresented themselves to be James O’Keefe and Project Veritas” in “an effort to damage their reputation and goodwill through such fabrication.”

In 2010, O’Keefe and three others allegedly pretended to be telephone workers in an unsuccessful effort to gain access to the New Orleans offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge of entering a federal office under false pretenses in connection with the incident.

O’Keefe first made national news in 2009 after he posed as a pimp and secretly recorded employees at liberal community service organization ACORN allegedly advising him on how to set up a prostitution ring. The video galvanized opposition to ACORN, and by 2010, the group had disbanded.

The FEC, meanwhile, has increasingly struggled to manage a flood of fake filings.

Last year, faced with increasing numbers of filings involving obviously fictitious figures, including Darth Vader, Katniss Everdeen and even God, the agency decided to act. It sent out stern letters asking filers to verify their information. For those that failed to do so, the agency said it would withdraw the filings. 

Anyone filing false information could face FEC fines or even criminal penalties, although the government has traditionally been reluctant to put resources into such cases.

A nonprofit group such as Project Veritas, which is organized as a charity under section 501(c)(3) of federal tax code, is also prohibited by law from sponsoring a federal PAC.

Judith Ingram, a spokeswoman for the FEC, said the agency can’t comment on any particular filing or committee “due to the potential of enforcement matters to come before the Commission.”

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