By Bill Spadea
This post originally appeared at NJ 101.5
There are many in the media world who wince when the title journalist is applied to James O’Keefe. He goes in undercover, with made up stories and fake names to expose possible corruption and crime in public institutions. O’Keefe uses the term himself on his twitter profile describing himself as a “Guerrilla Journalist.” What those detractors fail to recognize is the history of journalists using similar lying and undercover work to expose serious and important stories of corruption and crimes. Some have even won Pulitzer prizes. So yup, he’s a journalist.
I’ve known James O’Keefe for a long time. He heads up “Project Veritas” and has becomes a lightning rod for attacks for his undercover tactics. He’s responsible for leading the way for the federal government to defund the now defunct group ACORN after a series of undercover videos. Although his tactics came under fire and he had to settle by paying $100,000 to one of the targets in the video, Congress still includes ACORN on current budgets to ensure they do not receive funding even if they pop up again. Although the videos were edited, there has been no movement to bring back the disgraced group.
The latest target of O’Keefe is the New Jersey Education Association. He joined me on air Thursday to discuss two videos that exposed serious issues with union leaders working to represent teachers. The first video in Hamilton has the union rep explaining how he’ll “bend the truth” to protect a teach who (as a part of the undercover story) allegedly hit a student. The second video is even worse. The Union City union rep exposes that she has a file on a teacher who allegedly had sex with a student. Her issue? The teacher’s pension. It’s powerful and disconcerting stuff.
Both videos expose the potential of the NJEA covering for teachers alleged abuse and possible crimes involving the students in their care. As far as the issue of the “file” on the alleged sex between a teacher and the student, who is the teacher in question? The parents and fellow educators deserve a right to know if there is a predator among them. Is the person still teaching? Will there be a law enforcement investigation? I tweeted on Thursday asking people to call the NJEA and demand answers.
The NJEA responded to the video release with their own statement, attacking Project Veritas and James O’Keefe. What they didn’t do is properly address what was exposed in the video. The NJEA has a history of spending teacher’s money on political vendettas. Most recently, they spent $5 million to try to unseat Senate President Steve Sweeney because of the deal he cut with Chris Christie back in 2011.
So while the NJEA is circling the wagons to protect their members, how many kids are vulnerable? How many teachers have been bullied into paying exorbitant dues only to have millions wasted on political revenge? How many incidents of potential cover ups and alleged crimes were exposed in closed door meetings where Project Veritas didn’t have a camera?
Thankfully, average people have a watchdog in James O’Keefe. He’s got the courage of his convictions to expose and root out corruption in publicly funded institutions. You may not like his tactics, but isn’t it critical for parents to know that there’s a possibility that there are teachers doing awful things under the protection of Union bosses?
Who actually speaks up for the children, parents and innocent teachers? Today, that voice is James O’Keefe. More to come…
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.