James O'Keefe may be the motive force behind Project Veritas, the conservative nonprofit that has taken down ACORN, an NPR executive and now a handful of health-insurance navigators, but its latest undercover video sting wouldn't have packed the same punch had it been him walking into the Urban League of Greater Dallas headquarters on Lancaster Road asking to sign up for Obamacare. It would have gone down sort of like the video's bizarre introductory vignette, in which O'Keefe, decked out in full cowboy getup, sidles into an Old West saloon and orders a cranberry juice.
So, he enlisted Lawrence Billy Jones III, a conservative activist from Garland currently prepping for law school at the University of North Texas.
We've met Jones before. Last year, when he was 19, he ran for a seat on the Garland ISD Board of Trustees. "The community cried to me, and I heard their cry," he told us last January, by way of explaining his candidacy.
He lost the school board race, but that hasn't discouraged him from pursuing a political career he has eyed since childhood. On his website, which includes information on how to book him for speaking engagements and a prominent "donate" button, Jones writes that his introduction to public service came in 2009, when he served as youth mayor of Garland.
Later, as he was about to begin his senior year, Jones writes that he "decided to retire from the game of basketball to serve his community."
That's what he was doing when he signed on to go undercover for Project Veritas. In a sit-down last night with Fox 4, he explained how it came about.
"They found me," he explained. "They knew I was an activist, we had a common goal, and we both had suspicion there was fraud in the system. So I did whatever I could do to uncover the fraud."
He continues, "I was after truth, which is veritas."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
The results -- one Urban League navigator telling him not to report cash from odd jobs as income, a couple of others suggesting he lie about a smoking habit to get a lower premium -- speak for themselves. That's what led the Urban League of Greater Dallas to suspend three navigators-in-training and fire a receptionist.
The video released this week, though, is only the beginning.
"It's gonna get worse," he told Fox 4. "Some of the stuff I encounter at these facilities is just unbelievable."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.