The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Cast of Characters

ACORN Sues O'Keefe, Giles and

By Garance Franke-Ruta
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and LLC for what it alleged was "illegal videotaping" of ACORN employees in Baltimore.

The group filed its suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and is seeking "a preliminary and permanent injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape made by O'Keefe and Giles that aired on, a Web project of Andrew Breitbart's company, along with compensatory and punitive damages.

In the video, former Baltimore ACORN employees Shera Williams and Tonja Thompson give tax advice to O'Keefe and Giles, who are posing as a pimp and prostitute.

"The video and audio footage was taken without the knowledge of Williams and/or Thompson and in violation of Maryland's Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §§ 10-402(a) and 10-410, which requires two party consent to all electronic surveillance. Violation of the law is a felony, and entitles parties whose rights were violated to sue," ACORN said in a statement announcing the suit.

ACORN's general counsel, Arthur Schwartz, said the acts of O'Keefe and Giles in making the hidden-camera taping were "clear violations of Maryland law."

The ACORN legal team will include Andy Freeman of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein and Levy ; A. Dwight Pettit; Arthur Schwartz, from Schwartz, Lichten & Bright, PC in New York; and C. Justin Brown from Baltimore.

Posted at 6:08 PM ET on Sep 23, 2009  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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Previous: ACORN Shutting Down Tax Clinics, Vows to Continue Voter-Registration Efforts | Next: From the White House, a Fresh Push on Lobbyists

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Doesn't anyone read brer rabbit anymore?

Posted by: jgbrown8 | September 29, 2009 5:33 PM

Last week Barack Obama claimed that he really hasn't had a lot of contact with ACORN nor was the story about ACORN on his priority list - right.

The link below will take you to the best summary of BO's history with ACORN that I have seen so far. This scandal has the makings of another Watergate in importance and - I hope - the same outcome.

Posted by: wyattnev | September 27, 2009 4:23 PM

If acorn is so stupid by doing a lawsuit, I will not let anyone from acorn on to my property.They had better get their house in order before doing anything else.I hope that someone there gets some common sense before more damage is done to Acorn.

Posted by: jamespeterson558 | September 25, 2009 4:11 PM

Whatever you may think of Acorn, one thing is clear. The only laws that were actually broken were the ones committed by the pimp and the prostitute.

Posted by: mikewade1 | September 25, 2009 12:09 PM

You can easily say who the nuts are on this blog. Liberals,
Open Acorns books and then we will find the crooked socialist politicians.

Posted by: HellMan1 | September 25, 2009 1:30 AM

Rachel Maddow is doing several programs on ACORN for those of you who don't just believe everything you hear.

Posted by: MaggiePi | September 24, 2009 11:05 PM

The law does state "interception" of oral communications but I guess the question is what is considered an "interception." I think you have the right to videotape anyone; surveillance is done all the time. Whether you can use the audio may be a different question. However, I wonder if they have any rights under the sections dealing with violations of law?

I also have to agree that ACORN is so stupid for doing this. They don't realize that this is going to open up all kinds of discovery, and I am sure there are plenty of people who will be willing to donate to these guys' defense funds. I guess ACORN is so used to being a bully and throwing around their weight that they can scare people away who get too close to the truth, they don't realize maybe this time they are not going to be successful.

Or, maybe they are bluffing because if they do nothing, they are showing their fear of what is going to happen. I doubt they are going to get O's help in this one, or anyone's help. Wait, maybe Barney Frank and Maxine Waters but that would not be expected. Hopefully there will be plenty of audio, video, and pics for the next elections that their opponents can use. By that time, the ACORN scandals will probably be moving or have moved right along and all will be known, and it is not going to be good to have their names and pics attached to ACORN.

Oh, yea - let's see if Maryland investigates their doing business without legal authority to do so!

Posted by: rld2 | September 24, 2009 5:52 PM

Proving how absolutely ignorant the fools who run ACORN remain this lawsuit has NO merit.ACORN let it's corporation standing lapse in Maryland. They are OUT OF LUCK. They have to file their corporate annual reports to remain in good standing. They did not do so. A company that no longer exists can't experience damage.

And........Discovery will crush ACORN.


Treasury IG Agrees to Request by Issa and Collins to Conduct a Review of ACORN.


THE IRS has severed ties with ACORN


Census already severed ties with ACORN.

AND...There is LOTS of video footage of ACORN's complicity in voter fraud during the primaries...


ILLINOIS lawmakers are now investigating ACORN.

And..the list goes and on...did I mention the indictments against ACORN already in progress.

ACORN has all but been crushed. The final blow will come sooner than ANYONE expect.

Posted by: HarleyQuinn1 | September 24, 2009 4:40 PM

In teh game of chess, it is about strategy. In this case checkmate O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart.

A trial is what they want as they will get to see all the books, e-mails, memos, you name it, it is called disclosure. In addition, note the attorneys for ACORN keep saying illegal audio recording" that's because the Tripp law deals with recording PHONE conversations, not video conversations. As judge Napolitono said on FOX, "these kids did not violate any Maryland Statute". I hope that if it is a jury trial, it will be with their peers, meaning white conservative thought provoking young people.

Posted by: alwaysright1 | September 24, 2009 12:05 PM

Just one more point that needs to be amplified with reference to our topic regarding the ACORN suit. On one news program I listened to an ACORN individual bring up the subject of entrapment. As far as I know, this suit will be unable to be brought into civil court as having any relationship to the legal definition of entrapment which I believe refers to law enforcement depicted as improperly causing an arrest by eliciting statements offered by a defendent in a duplicitous or overly provocative manner. We have film journalists here not the vice squad.

Posted by: freelanceman4 | September 24, 2009 12:03 PM

Whoo-Hoo Did ACORN even think of subpoenas and discovery?

Posted by: boblee1 | September 24, 2009 11:17 AM

Rather than clean house and dedicate themselves to their original mission, ACORN's decision to sue not only demonstrates a lack of judgment, but an allegiance to themselves and not to the people they serve and to our President they profess (so loudly) to support.

Posted by: nishiki | September 24, 2009 10:49 AM

ACORN is showing an appalling lack of judgement compounding their equally appalling lack of management. Illustrating the fact that the organization is rotten to the core and robbing both the taxpayers and their own prospective clients. Four incidents is not an exception - it's standard operating procedure. Where were these people's supervisors? Somewhere consistently where they never overheard these conversations? Given the time and money the filmmakers may have found dozens more situations like this one. I applaud their efforts as well as bemoan it took them to bring this to the public's view.

Posted by: ladyofargonne | September 24, 2009 10:08 AM

ACORN might of messed up.

If the defenants decide to be combative and go all out. ACORN has left itself wide open to examination. The defendants have the right to discovery and that opens ACORN's books, e-mails and other documentation open to review by ACORN's opponents.

This will be interesting.

Posted by: mwhoke | September 24, 2009 9:01 AM

On July 20, 2009, even before Giles and O'Keefe went public with their expose, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform published a study with the rhetorical title:

"Is ACORN Intentionally Structured as a Criminal Enterprise?"

Naturally the rot in such an organization is not confined to the low-level employees that the journalists exposed. It started at the top, a long time ago, and persists at the top. The list of illegal acts cited in the report is a long one, and surely very incomplete. It's a good read.

Posted by: renlute | September 24, 2009 3:28 AM

Ha ha ha, they actually have the nerve to sue the filmmakers? Why are they making an even bigger deal out of this? It'll only attract further public attention to the scandal. I mean, I myself had already forgotten about this humorous incident; there are more important things in the world right now.

Anyway, just let it slide ACORN. Geez.

Posted by: namendeguerre | September 24, 2009 3:11 AM

Maybe this will get the Acorn case more coverage by the media, which would be a good thing. Acorn is bad news, and the cooner people figure it out, the sooner it can shut down, or undergo radical reformation.

If it were five branches of McDonalds, or five branches of Starbucks, there would be heads rolling at the top. Does Acorn have a board? Why does the CEO still have her job? Firing a few employees at the bottom does not change corporate culture.

Personally, I'd be looking at the politicians who are trying to sweep this under the carpet (are you listening Conyers, and Frank?) - this is likely to finally be the issue that brings them down. But, then again, they seem to be coated in teflon, and if the Fannie Mae thing couldn't get them, perhaps they are invincible... I hope that common sense still exists somewhere in America.

This is not a political issue. It is a criminal issue, and must be investigated as such, and not by the people who are trying to sweep it under the carpet.

Posted by: caboken | September 24, 2009 2:57 AM

They used the 'illegal' video taping as the basis to terminate several employees. How does that work?
Win or lose they are suggesting that they terminated employees based on this evidence...that they are suggesting was obtained illegally.
Can the employees now sue for wrongful termination?

Posted by: k8working | September 24, 2009 2:16 AM

It is lawful under this subtitle for a person to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where the person is a party to the communication and where all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to the interception UNLESS the communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortuous act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of this State.

Posted by: IIntgrty | September 24, 2009 1:45 AM

Unless the conduct is for the purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain, conduct which would otherwise be an offense under this subsection is not an offense under this subsection if the conduct consists of or relates to the interception of a satellite transmission that is not encrypted or scrambled and that is transmitted:

(i) To a broadcasting station for purposes of retransmission to the general public; or

Posted by: IIntgrty | September 24, 2009 1:42 AM

It appears that ACORN attorneys have filed suit against the conservative video journalists who went undercover and as the nation viewed apparently filmed lower echelon ACORN workers exhibiting themselves in what ACORN seems to agree by virtue of their dismissal, their wrongful participation and perhaps at the least insubordinate and questionable conduct.So we all are at the juncture of pending litigation, not having transcended into an actual trial. Commenting or handicapping potential events or outcomes is not appropriate now.Invoking the Fifth Amendment is allowable at civil proceedings. Any of the direct players as well as material witnesses can be deposed and made to testify under oath. Events that are significant brought into this trial may be considered as evidence for the future. Civil suits must be correlated with provable damages, monetary or injurious. A countersuit is allowable and has the potential of prevailing over the original suit.

Posted by: freelanceman4 | September 24, 2009 1:42 AM

(ii) It is lawful under this subtitle for an investigative or law enforcement officer acting in a criminal investigation or any other person acting at the prior direction and under the supervision of an investigative or law enforcement officer to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication in order to provide evidence:

1. Of the commission of:

A. Murder;

B. Kidnapping;

C. Rape;

D. A sexual offense in the first or second degree;

E. Child abuse;

F. Child pornography under § 11-207, § 11-208, or § 11-208.1 of the Criminal Law Article;

Posted by: IIntgrty | September 24, 2009 1:40 AM

Strategic blunder by ACORN. Giles and O'Keefe are national heroes, and their legal defense fund is going to provide platoons of lawyers to drive ACORN into the sea.

Posted by: thebump | September 23, 2009 11:31 PM

ACORN is suing?? COOL!!! Crooks like ACORN are the dumbest people.

Can't wait for James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and LLC to file counterclaims!!! Boy are they lucky dudes!!!

Then subpoena ALL the records of ACORN and it's 300 other shell corporations, put all the Acorn Weasels under oath including Raskin and his brother.

Hell, add the SEIU and to the counterclaims while they are at it. Expose it all!!

Boy oh boy, I love discovery!! James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and LLC are really lucky!! Thanks ACORN. I love it when you shoot yourself in the head!

This is gonna be FUN!!!!!!!

Posted by: konagold99 | September 23, 2009 11:26 PM

Does this mean Barack will be reprising his role as ACORN defense lawyer?

ACORN: Association of Criminals Obama Represented in the Nineties.

“I've been fighting alongside of Acorn on issues you care about my entire career [including child “services”, financial “services”, and “voter” registration?] Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote in Illinois, Acorn was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.” --Obama, 2007

ACORN: Assisting Call-girls, Obama, Reid and Nancy

Posted by: PositiveSum | September 23, 2009 11:12 PM

Everyone in the DC area should know that it is ILLEGAL to TAPE someone in Maryland w/out consent. Linda Tripp anyone?

Now whether that law would apply given the # of people present and it being audio and video--as johnplover1 says it might not apply. I'd be interested to see relevant precedent/cases.

You don't have to approve of ACORN's appalling pile of scandals to realize that they have a valid legal issue that deserves a hearing in court: if people take it on themselves to "expose" immoral and illegal acts by ACORN employees, they should take the time to do some RESEARCH on local law before they head out.

Furthermore, as a Maryland resident I am GLAD there is a law against being recorded without my consent. Every customer service line you call will inform you "this call may be monitored or recorded for quality and training purposes"--because of laws like Maryland's. I am always aware that since I'm being recorded, there is a chance that whatever I say can be edited or spliced. I have had one or two *really* unpleasant encounters with sales people (that had I not complained to supervisory people could have cost me a LOT of money) that have convinced me that knowing when I'm being recorded actually PROTECTS me from being taken advantage of.

Posted by: jennypeekaboo | September 23, 2009 10:58 PM

ACORN > S.E.I.U. > The White House

Following the $$$

Posted by: ChangeWhat | September 23, 2009 10:56 PM

Many of the comments made here must come from the most illiterate people I have ever heard of. You are a disgrace to the Democratic Party.

Posted by: netnews1 | September 23, 2009 10:54 PM

GOOD! ACORN needs to clean up their act. BUT These liberals also need to follow the law. THESE LIBERALS DID THE CRIME NOW THEY MUST DO THE TIME.

Posted by: angelou | September 23, 2009 10:52 PM

Its what libs do best when they are caught dead-to-rights-f____d; lawyer up. Don't address the issue, dissect the minutia, point at the microscopic textures and try to claim how "wronged" they have been. Then throw the race card.

Clog the legal system with extensive numbers of superfluous briefs hoping to keep daylight off this long enough to extricate from a really, really bad position.

ACORN ran like a dog off the leash with everyone thinking they were such a good mascot for the team, until they bit someone.

Now the chips are going to fall and I expect it to be a fantastic autumn of reading the chronicling of how bad they were and how tight Obama and the dems were with them! Woo hoo!

Posted by: ascpgh1 | September 23, 2009 10:44 PM

@ seemstome

Please review the definition of entrapment.

Posted by: IwanaGofishing | September 23, 2009 10:26 PM

This is just the tip of an enormous iceberg, ACORN was deeply involed in the 08' election. They know who is registered to vote, when you go to vote they have a list of names of registered voters, they check your name off after you vote, THEN they "destroy" the ballots remaining from the MORONS who dont vote. you actually think that an organization that is so deeply intrenched in the voting process and has so many ties would let those ballots from the people that they registered to vote go to waste? And thats if the "ACORN representitive" who is in the field signing people up do vote does'nt have them vote absentee! FOR THEM MORON!!! Get ready because Obama has a lot to hide!

Posted by: CTLangis | September 23, 2009 10:24 PM

ACORN: Not the sharpest crayons in the box. After some really stupid employees at the bottom of the food chain got caught being themselves, stupid employees at the top of the foodchain are suing.

Have they not heard of discovery? Set loose the legions of lawyers. Let's see what we find. Maybe ACORN is going to get back at the dems who threw them under the bus. Between this case,the case in Louisianna, and the cases brewing in other states, I am wondering: who is going to pay all those ACORN lawyers?

To you are are STILL definding ACORN:
Stop defending the indefensible, and enough of your double standards. Corruption is corruption wherever it is. Deal with it. We all love 60 minutes and 20/20 and other gotcha journalism. You just don't like that sacrosanct ACORN got stung.

Posted by: rsmann | September 23, 2009 10:18 PM

Typical lib--turd logic.
Child prostituion = no problem.
Recording conversation = problem

Maybe Obozzo can represent them since he is soooooo cozy

Posted by: Bcamp55 | September 23, 2009 10:17 PM

ACORN employees involved in this mess add up to 1% of the organization's work force. ACORN mostly helps people. That's why the wingnuts hate them so much. When I saw the video I sent a donation to ACORN. Let's make the wingnuts regret their brown shirt tactics. Prosecute this little hate filled smart *ss.

Posted by: rooster54 | September 23, 2009 9:58 PM

So Mr. Reid has blocked an investigation of ACORN endorsed by President Obama. In Nevada, prostitution is legal, so there might not be much fallout on his campaign to retain his seat there, if that were all it was. The underage illegals as prostitutes may be a significant problem. On the whole, I would call this a bad move.

Posted by: Geosota | September 23, 2009 9:56 PM

Interesting that this Lawsuit is a Civil suit and NOT a criminal prosecution . Guess the Maryland prosecutor is afraid to touch this case and prosecute the film makers for exposing aiding and abetting criminal behavior.

Also this suit is in the Chancery division and will be heard by a judge without a JURY . Acorn must be afraid being judged by ordinary citizens.

There is a money damages portion of this lawsuit in which Acorn and its employees are seeking $1,000,000 because of alleged emotional distress for having their behavior exposed. I guess it would be embarrassing to have the rest of the world know that they condoned tax evasion and exploitation of underage females. Give the the two employees enough money to buy masks.

Posted by: ejhickey | September 23, 2009 8:39 PM

am i the only one who thinks it astounding that there can actually be a law like this in place?

forget acorn, forget democrats and republicans for a minute (if that's possible for you people). what fig leaf did the maryland legislature use when they passed this law?

if i recorded someone offering me crack in my own home and i showed it to police, would i be prosecuted in maryland? maybe im naive, but something seems wrong here.

Posted by: Occam1 | September 23, 2009 8:28 PM

Deny that this is a case of entrapment by a right wing film maker who sought to associate ACORN with prostitution.

Step2: Investigate ACORN

Step3: Associate Obama with ACORN.

Step4: Bring down health care reform.

Step4: Bring down Obama

Once again the Republican reveal their true intent which is to manipulate and attack the poor. This time they will fail.

Posted by: seemstome | September 23, 2009 8:19 PM

ACORN you are doing the right thang! I'm hoping OBAMA is called upon to be a character witness.

SEIU and other unions will also be supporting you along with real Liberal/Progressives.

What will the Republicans be doing...laughing their ass off at how utterly stupid ACORN and their advisors are!!!



Posted by: jkptak | September 23, 2009 7:39 PM

Oral communication, under the statute, requires the conversation to be private in nature. Given the number of persons present, I think ACORN will not be successful in the lawsuit.

Posted by: johnplover1 | September 23, 2009 7:29 PM


Posted by: menopausequeen | September 23, 2009 7:22 PM

Circuit Court Baltimore City.
Will that be a jury trail?

Posted by: menopausequeen | September 23, 2009 7:20 PM

Way to go ACORN. Get those shakedown attorneys on their hands and knees so they can sniff for deep pockets. Hide the truth. Sniff and sue. Load the jury with addled OJ-type jurors. Remember, truth and justice are the last things you want.

Posted by: jhurley1 | September 23, 2009 7:20 PM

Too long a day... Correction... there are probably multiple heads.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | September 23, 2009 7:15 PM

Corrction... there ARE probably multiple heads.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | September 23, 2009 7:13 PM

Good luck! I'm a liberal and I think ACRON should be done away with. These fools haven't got a chance in any courtroom. This is all about a few wretched money grubbing "executives" who see their ride on the gravy train coming to an end. Good riddance.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | September 23, 2009 7:13 PM

Kill the snake (ACORN). Start with cutting off its head. Only problem is, there probably multiple heads.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | September 23, 2009 7:12 PM

multi million dollar corp sues two penniless producers who dared to expose there corruption. We've seen it before, but now the OBama zombies are rooting for the corp, what abunch of hypocrites.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | September 23, 2009 7:12 PM

Oh, these ACORN nuts. Don't they realize that discovery goes both ways? Unchain the lawyers!

Posted by: bandmom22 | September 23, 2009 7:07 PM

Democracy in action.
Sue the little ____ to penalize them for exposing you.
Excellent, make the muckrakers pay.

Posted by: llrllr | September 23, 2009 6:55 PM

So if this is a felony can they also be charged criminally as well as this civil action? I have little sympathy for ACORN in this instance, but also just as little for the people who went after them. I do like the irony of someone trying to pull a sting being brought up on charges for violating the law. I seem to remember Kroger Foods suing some journalists a few years back who when to work for them to uncover poor sanitary conditions at some of their stores. Hopefully this will be as much fun to watch as the sting itself.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | September 23, 2009 6:55 PM

There are hundreds of organizations in this country that do, or can do, what ACORN was suppose to do, and they can do it better. Its time for ACORN and any other organization(s) or person(s) that are involved with this group to go.

Posted by: 45upnorth | September 23, 2009 6:49 PM

Smack down in progress...clear the area. I never liked these "stings." They tempt the weak into vileness. Assisting the poor is nothing that should be attacked. Why don't they embarass the rich and the powerful? A real journalist would consider professional ethics -- no lying about prostites. A real journalist would also have protection from a lawsuit -- amatuer hour -- not so much.

Posted by: lwps | September 23, 2009 6:48 PM

There are hundreds of organizations in this country that do, or can do, what ACORN was suppose to do, and they can do it better. Its time for ACORN and any other organization(s) or person(s) that are involved with this group.

Posted by: 45upnorth | September 23, 2009 6:48 PM

ACORN is the one with the "personhood" of a Corporate Charter now.

If you'll excuse the expression, what goes around (the 1st Amendment), comes around. The Republican sponsored lunacy is just beginning.

Posted by: gannon_dick | September 23, 2009 6:48 PM

Methinks Acorn will soon be hoisted by its own petard! Good theater!

Posted by: faudel | September 23, 2009 6:46 PM

Oh, boo-hoo. The poor GOP. The rule of law is only important when it benefits them. Anytime they have an agenda, it is not supposed to apply.

I hope these political opportunists lose the suit and have to pay through the nose. It's exactly what they deserve.


Posted by: odin966 | September 23, 2009 6:44 PM

All the right wing can offer is plans for child prostitution and God-knows-what else inhabits their vile pea-brains. Does entraping the weak really add to the discourse?

Posted by: lwps | September 23, 2009 6:42 PM

Do they expect simpathy from their actions. Wow do they have nerve trying to keep this undercover.Employees at work cannot be taped,gee, thats news.Lots of undercover tapes.Acorn will do anything to get free tax money.

Posted by: dcg326 | September 23, 2009 6:35 PM

This just in from Kathleen Hunter, CQ POLITICS

Reid Rejects GOP Call for ACORN Hearings

Majority Leader Harry Reid rebuffed a Republican request that he call Senate hearings and an investigation into recent allegations against the scandal-tainted community organizing group ACORN.

Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that he would not ask the Senate committee chairmen or Congress “to do anything that would distract from efforts to address” health care, climate change, an overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system and oversight of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: geo82170 | September 23, 2009 6:31 PM

An acorn is a NUT.

Only an organization of acorns would sue - so that their criminal behavior gets exposed month, after month, after month as the legal actions go on and on and on...

Non-nuts express our thanks to the acorns for doing this! Please keep it up until the 2010 elections.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | September 23, 2009 6:24 PM

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