“Have you ever heard of a Russian named Solzhenitsyn?” he asked.
Had the videos revealed a larger injustice, O’Keefe’s stated goal? Had they demonstrated waste and abuse in Great Society initiatives run amok, or were they simply exposing the failures of some well-meaning, low-level bureaucrats in a basically worthy government program? It depends on your perspective. As for James O’Keefe, he is already looking for the next target.
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“We should expose the incentives that the system gives for fatherless families.”
“What agencies do this?” O’Keefe asked.
“Welfare,” Jean-Louis said.
“A couple could approach a caseworker and say they’re thinking of getting married, but they can’t decide if they should because it might be a loss in benefits,” Adeleye offered.
“A mom and a baby daddy, and the caseworker telling them not to get married,” Jean-Louis added.
“Even if they love each other,” O’Keefe said, giving the story an emotional center. “If the caseworker still says not to get married, that would be really powerful. Of course the headline will say, ‘O’Keefe Goes After Welfare,’ but some people actually need welfare. We’re looking to expose people who don’t. Maybe we should give the couple good jobs. That way there would be no economic justification for telling them to stay on welfare.”
“Right,” Jean-Louis. “A caseworker telling a black man not to marry.”
“A white caseworker,” Adeleye said.
Jean-Louis laughed. “A white male caseworker telling a black male.”
“You won’t find a white male caseworker,” Adeleye said.
“O.K., a white woman caseworker telling a black man not to marry a black woman. You know sisters are going to be outraged at that!”
After graduating in 2006, O’Keefe went to work at the Leadership Institute. “James was an extremely hard worker,” Blackwell says.
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