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James O’Keefe goes after NJEA with video of ‘Teachers Union Gone Wild’

okeefevideo_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

James O'Keefe, the 26-year old conservative activist and filmmaker, has purportedly recorded a video of teachers chanting slogans against Gov. Chris Christie while attending a conference sponsored by the state's largest teachers union.

The video, called "Teacher's Union Gone Wild," is posted on a website run by O'Keefe. The teachers video, also posted on YouTube.com, claims to be hidden audio and camera footage from the New Jersey Education Association's summer leadership conference at the New Brunswick Hilton. The video claims to record teachers chanting that they will kick Christie, who has feuded with the union since becoming governor in January, "in the toolbox!"

O'Keefe released two videos, showing unionized New Jersey educators appearing to boast about how it's virtually impossible to fire tenured teachers, even those who make racist statements to students.

According to the Asbury Park Press, O'Keefe, a Rutgers University graduate, achieved overnight notoriety in 2009 when he and an assistant posed as a pimp and a prostitute inside various offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a community group long linked with left-wing causes.

On the video, ACORN workers purportedly offered advice on how to lie on housing applications and avoid taxes. A firestorm, especially on conservative talk radio, ensued, and the community activist group disbanded shortly afterward.

The Brooklyn District Attorney and the California state Attorney General, however, later declined to prosecute the ACORN workers in the case and said a crime had not been committed.

O'Keefe said he recruited a number of "citizen journalists" to hang out in the hotel and record conversations with teachers, and they played critical acting roles.

In one video, people are heard chanting: "Let's have a whiskey and get a little misty. Join me now and slander Chris Christie!" That is followed by: 'Read, write and arithmetic. Here comes Christie with a whipping stick!" as a crowd cheers. The video shows pictures of Christie and not footage of the chanting crowd.

Steve Baker, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, said he did not know anything about the event, and could not confirm or deny the audio.

According to the Daily Caller, in one video, Alissa Ploshnick, who is identified as a special educator at Passaic Public Schools, seems to verify the worst suspicions of education reformers. "It's really hard to fire a tenured teacher," she says. "It's really hard — like you seriously have to be in the hallway f***ing somebody."

Ploshnick claims that a colleague in Passaic was demoted, but not fired, after uttering a racial slur against a student. The teacher who made the claim, named in the video, could not be reached for comment.

In the second video released by O'Keefe, another "citizen-journalist" actor poses as a parent and calls an assistant superintendent to ask whether a teacher would be fired for using the racial slur.

The person identified as an assistant superintendent, in the recorded telephone call, said the teacher would likely be demoted, but not fired. The assistant superintendent also offered to move the parent's child from the class.

The law enforcement officials said footage omitted from the videos cast the case in a different light.

Christie's spokesman Michael Drewniak called the videos "distressing — and revealing — to say the least."

Baker said it is not an accurate depiction of what occurred at the conference.

O'Keefe had used a hidden camera during trips to ACORN offices in Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; and California. O'Keefe and his assistant, Hannah Giles, claimed to have made the video for a mere $1,300.

O'Keefe recently investigated Census supervisors who encouraged pay-by-the-hour workers to falsify their time sheets, costing taxpayers an estimated $10,000,000.

According to biggovernment.com, his past investigations include the probe of Sen. Landrieu's (D-La.) telephone system during the health care debate, where the Department of Justice omitted in a press release their admission that James and his friends had no intent to tamper with Senator Landrieu's phones. O'Keefe and three others pleaded guilty in May to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses after they posed as telephone repairmen and entered the Landrieu's offices.

 

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