A former ACORN employee in San Diego who lost his job after being filmed giving advice to “ACORN pimp” James O’Keefe is suing the amateur videographer and his partner, Hannah Giles, San Diego CityBeat’s Dave Maass reported Friday.
Juan Carlos Vera was one of a number of ACORN employees who in the summer of 2009 was secretly filmed giving advice to O’Keefe and Giles, who told media they were posing as a pimp and prostitute with plans to bring underage prostitutes to the US from Latin America.
In a lawsuit (PDF) filed in a California court this week, Vera argues O’Keefe and Giles broke the law when they taped their conversation inside the ACORN office. California is one of about a dozen states where conversations can only be recorded if all parties to it agree. Vera is seeking $75,000, plus unspecified “special damages.”
California Attorney General Jerry Brown cleared Vera of wrongdoing in a report earlier this year. Brown found that, though Vera appeared sympathetic to the “pimp and prostitute” during the taped meeting, he immediately notified the police of the conversation. Brown’s investigation also found that the O’Keefe videos were “significantly edited.”
The shocking prospect of ACORN employees aiding in human trafficking prompted Congress to de-fund the group last year, a move that was later ruled unconstitutional. And a report from the Government Accountability Office, released earlier this year, found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of ACORN, which received some $40 million in federal funding from 2005 to 2009.
In February, Hannah Giles admitted that the flamboyant pimp and prostitutes costumes in which she and O’Keefe were seen in some of the videos were never worn inside ACORN offices, contrary to most news reports. “In truth, O’Keefe represented himself to low-level ACORN workers as the college law school boyfriend of Giles, desperately trying to save her from the house of an abusive pimp who she believed would kill her,” Brad Blog reported.
Vera’s lawsuit is not the first one to be launched by an ACORN employee over the O’Keefe videos. In January, Pennsylvania ACORN worker Katherine Conway-Russell sued the duo, claiming that they had misrepresented her in the videos.
“Unlike the videos [O'Keefe] has been showing on the Internet, we refused to help him and called the police and filed this report,” Conway-Russell said in an ACORN-produced video.
The growing body of evidence suggesting ACORN’s wrongdoing is overblown comes too late for the organization, which announced in March it would be disbanding, due to image and financial problems.
Last month, former ACORN president Bertha Lewis told RAW STORY she believes the political campaign against ACORN “was a McCarthy-era style war against the poor and minorities.”
Lewis said the ACORN controversy “proves the right will resort to anything to maintain power to continue the war on poor black and brown people. … Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh can call me a racist all they want to, but there is no way there was not a racial element and class element to this whole attack.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited from its original version. It was changed to clarify background information regarding O’Keefe and Giles’ actions.