From New Jersey, was an Eagle Scout. Attended Rutgers.
Considers himself a satirist...James O'Keefe III mounted a satirical campaign to ban Lucky Charms cereal from campus dining halls on the premise the breakfast fare was offensive to Irish-Americans.
He first gained wide notoriety in 2009, when he released a series of undercover videos attacking the liberal community-organizing group Acorn. He secretly filmed encounters in which he and a female colleague showed up at acorn offices in various cities, claiming to be a pimp and an underage prostitute who wanted advice on how to make prostitution look like a legal business. acorn officials appeared to oblige them, in one instance advising them to make sure that the immigrants O’Keefe claimed he was going to prostitute actually went to school as exchange students. After O’Keefe began releasing his exposés of acorn, the House of Representatives voted to cut off federal funds to the group, which soon collapsed.
In January, 2010, the F.B.I. arrested O’Keefe and three accomplices, two of whom had disguised themselves as telephone repairmen in order to enter the New Orleans office of Mary Landrieu, then a Democratic senator for Louisiana. (O’Keefe says he had hoped to disprove Landrieu’s claim that her phone lines were too clogged to answer the many angry calls coming from Tea Party activists.) O’Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation and a hundred hours of community service; he also paid a fifteen-hundred-dollar fine.
In 2011, O’Keefe embarrassed National Public Radio when two accomplices, pretending to represent a radical Muslim group, proposed to donate five million dollars to the network in exchange for favorable programming about Islam. After O’Keefe released videos depicting two NPR employees chatting with the undercover operatives about the need to put Muslim voices on the air, and criticizing the Republican Party as “not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic,” two top NPR officials, including its chief executive, Vivian Schiller, resigned.