O’Keefe’s second sham sting tape lands — with a resounding THUD

After James O’Keefe’s first sting tape received a highly skeptical reception from the Maine press and the Maine people, he promised the second would show them all up.

A tweet from O’Keefe taunted:

Finished another video. I predict egg on the faces of journalists up there. The usual.  

Perhaps there were people who were worried that this time he found, um, actual fraud.  

But, no, this time, the charges were even more pathetic, so pathetic that he could not get the Governor to make a statement, nor to generate much in the way of press coverage.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which had touted the first tape, put out a statement “grading” the state worker and concluding that there was “potential” for fraud because the intake worker accurately explained the legal eligibility requirements for the program.  Somehow this seems to be a rather strange position from a group that identifies one of its main missions as promoting transparency and open government.  

Moreover, under this logic, people at the VA are fraud-enablers if they tell veterans what is needed to qualify to disability benefits, and people at the Social Security administration are fraud-enablers if they tell a 62-year old what they would have to do to get early retirement benefits.   

As the Maine press reported:

The latest 40-minute video, labeled as taking place at a DHHS office in Portland. . . shows an unidentified DHHS worker methodically going through the MaineCare benefits and eligibility requirements and the same actor from the first video leaving the office with no benefits.  Morning Sentinel on O’Keefe

In the newest video, the actor, who identifies himself as Sean Murphy, meets with a DHHS employee to fill out applications for benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. He asks how to qualify for services even though he has access to a large bank account. He never receives any benefits and there is no video evidence that any fraud took place. Bangor Daily News on O’Keefe’s second Maine tape

Perhaps the clearest commentary came from a Maine farmer:

Throughout the 47 minutes of this video we see workers, our Maine state employees, acting professionally and giving as much information as possible to a customer who was being, as we now know, purposefully evasive. This attempt to entrap our employees was a failure; they neither violated the customer’s rights nor declared him qualified or ineligible for MaineCare.

This “customer” wasted a significant amount of state workers’ time to try to prove that people are fraudulently receiving MaineCare or that worker errors are creating fraud. Neither case was proven. 

Seems like if anyone got any egg on the face, it was James O’Keefe himself — and the Maine groups that pushed this nonsense.  One thing is clear: They think fraud means finding out when one can legally obtain the programs established by state and national government, by elected officials selected by the people in open elections. 

Indeed, the second sham sting landed with a resounding THUD.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.