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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SF Weekly Sister Paper Reveals ACORN Videographer's Ties to Silicon Valley Conservative Activist

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:01 PM


Our colleagues at the Village Voice broke a strange story of both local and national interest yesterday. It turns out that James O'Keefe, the mischievous videographer behind a series of covert films that have disgraced the national grassroots organization Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- better known as ACORN -- has pulled down funding from San Francisco resident Peter Thiel, the conservative Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Writing on the Voice news blog, Steven Thrasher reveals that Thiel helped O'Keefe produce an earlier video with a grant of at least $10,000. (The previous video, called "Taxpayers Clearinghouse," featured O'Keefe duping working-class folks into thinking they'd won $28,000.) A founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, Thiel is now a hedge fund manager. He is co-author of the the anti-"multiculturalist" polemic, The Diversity Myth; according to Gawker's Valleywag, Thiel is gay. He denies that he directly funded the ACORN video, but Thrasher notes that previous financial support from the entrepreneur could have seeped over to aid the latest project.

In the most recent videos, O'Keefe -- who has claimed to be financially independent -- and blogger Hannah Giles travel to

ACORN offices around the country, dressed as a pimp and prostitute,

respectively.

The pair ask ACORN workers how to conceal money earned

through prostitution for tax purposes, and receive advice on how to do

so at five offices. The videos have stirred an uproar, and have led to the loss of millions in government grant money for ACORN. Hats off to Thrasher and the Voice for digging deeper on this story.

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Peter Jamison

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