James O’Keefe’s Rules for Radicals
The right-leaning provocateur has a new book out.

James O'Keefe


Eliana Johnson

One of his recent ventures has brought him into the battle against voter fraud. Under Holder’s leadership, the Department of Justice has cried foul when it comes to voter-identification laws. Citing Alinsky’s rule, he tells me, “They say, ‘No voter ID, no voter ID, no voter ID’ — okay, good. Then we’ll go and get Eric Holder’s ballot.” During the 2012 election season, O’Keefe and his colleagues released a series of video clips. One showed one of his associates walking into Holder’s designated Washington, D.C., polling location and requesting the attorney general’s ballot. When asked to sign in, he claims to have forgotten his ID. “You don’t need it; it’s all right,” he is told. “As long as you’re in here, you’re on our list, and that’s who you say you are, you’re okay.” Another video showed O’Keefe’s colleagues requesting and obtaining the ballots for the New Hampshire primary of several deceased voters. Yet another showed the son of Democratic congressman Jim Moran, then working as a field director for his father’s campaign, eagerly discussing a scheme to cast fraudulent ballots with one of O’Keefe’s undercover operatives, posing as an Obama supporter.

Though O’Keefe has gotten results, he has not made many friends along the way. After he took undercover video that showed Planned Parenthood employees facilitating a 15-year-old girl’s abortion, he was fired from his job at the conservative Leadership Institute. When asked, he admits to not much caring about being liked. “It’s the seminal question,” he tells me. “It’s why people are deterred from being more effective than they are. I think people are more willing to give up their lives than their reputation.” He also says that, because his opponents cannot dispute the inconvenient facts he presents them with, they attempt to malign his character. “If that’s the best they have to throw at us, it’s insufficient,” he says. “Rock beats scissors every time — that’s the main message of the book.”

O’Keefe will no doubt make plenty of enemies before he’s finished. But to him, that suggests he’s doing something right. “I liked being hated more than I liked being liked, and that’s when the game really began.”

Eliana Johnson is media editor of NRO.