James O'Keefe: Why Secret Recordings Must Be Legal Conservative activist argues for investigative rights By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Apr 15, 2013 1:08 PM CDT 28 comments Comments This Jan. 26, 2010 file photo shows James O'Keefe walking out of the St. Bernard Parish jail in Chalmette, La. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (Newser) – James O'Keefe may be on the same side of the political aisle as Mitch McConnell, but he's firmly in support of the people who taped McConnell and his aides mocking Ashley Judd from the other side of a closed door. In fact, all such secretive taping should be legal, O'Keefe writes in the Daily Beast. O'Keefe, who has dealt with the uncomfortable consequences of his use of controversial sting tactics, says he has "become all too familiar with civil and criminal statutes that are bad for democracy because they insolate [sic] those vested in a public trust from democratic accountability." "Raw and unfiltered recordings are the best tools we have to expose things as they really are," O'Keefe argues, although he seems to contradict himself when he notes that the McConnell tapers "may have overstepped the line this time." Even so, he says, the potential felony charges they could face aren't fair, because such "covert tactics are effective in exposing the truth." He also points out that the media laud such investigative tactics when they're performed by people on the left, but denounce them when they're performed by people on the right, like him. By doing that, journalists "put themselves outside their own values, assuming that support for the First Amendment is one of them." Click for his full column.