NEW ORLEANS — A conservative activist accused of trying to tamper with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones said he and three others charged in the incident wanted to investigate complaints that constituents calling her office couldn't get through.
"On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building," James O'Keefe wrote Friday on the Web site biggovernment.com.
Landrieu's spokesman called his explanation "feeble."
O'Keefe, known nationally for hidden-camera videos targeting the community-organizing group ACORN, said he believes it's clear he and others weren't trying to wiretap or shut down Landrieu's phones in her office in a New Orleans federal building.
He said the four, including two who posed as telephone repairmen, wanted to investigate criticisms that people could not reach Landrieu's office by phone.
Some have criticized Landrieu for supporting a Senate health care reform plan and striking a deal to secure a Medicaid provision with an estimated value of as much as $365 million for Louisiana. The provision was meant to address what state officials, Republican and Democrat, agree is a problem: Louisiana faces what they say are unfair cuts in Medicaid based on state income figures temporarily inflated as money flowed into the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Landrieu said through a spokesman Friday that she wants to see the outcome of the federal investigation.
"It is obvious to anyone following this case that James O'Keefe crossed the line, and Sen. Landrieu expects a thorough federal investigation into the matter," spokesman Rob Sawicki said. "She believes that he should save his feeble explanation for the FBI and the judge."