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Activist says CNN 'punk' plan was never going forward

By The CNN Wire Staff
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CNN reporter target of a failed 'punk'
  • NEW: Boudreau: Filmmaker's statement "reinforces what we reported"
  • James O'Keefe says he was "repulsed" by the planned prank
  • O'Keefe says he objected to "over-the-top language and symbolism"
  • The "punk" plan drew criticism when exposed by CNN

(CNN) -- (CNN) -- The conservative activist behind a sexually charged attempt to "punk" a CNN correspondent said Monday the plan was meant as satire and "was never going to be implemented as written."

In a statement, James O'Keefe said he was "repulsed" by the plan contained in a document obtained by CNN. In addition, he said, CNN Investigative Correspondent Abbie Boudreau "was never going to be placed in a threatening situation."

"When the CNN idea was pitched to me, I'll admit that I liked the basic absurdity of meeting Abbie Boudreau on a boat and the idea of counter-seduction satire executed in a tame, humorous, non-threatening manner," O'Keefe said. "After all, as all liberal reporters do, she was trying to "seduce" (a metaphor) me so she could get more for her story. It would be fun, I thought, to turn the tables in jest.

"However, I was repulsed by the over-the-top language and symbolism that was suggested in the memo that was sent to me, and never considered that for a moment."

The plan involved getting Boudreau aboard a boat filled with sexually explicit props -- including sex toys, condoms, fuzzy handcuffs and pictures of naked women -- and then recording the session.

O'Keefe gained notoriety for a series of videos in which he and fellow activist Hannah Giles targeted the now-defunct Association of Community Activists for Reform Now (ACORN). The 40-year-old liberal group was crippled by scandal after O'Keefe and Giles allegedly solicited advice from ACORN workers on setting up a brothel and evading taxes.

The videos led to some of the employees being fired and contributed to the disbanding of ACORN, which advocated for low- and middle-income and worked to register voters. But prosecutors in New York and California eventually found no evidence of wrongdoing by the group, and the California probe found the videos had been heavily and selectively edited.

O'Keefe's next big splash ended with his being placed on probation after he taped associates entering Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in New Orleans posing as telephone repairmen. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering a federal office under false pretenses.

Boudreau set up a meeting with O'Keefe in August for a documentary, "Right on the Edge," that debuted Saturday. But his attempt to embarrass Boudreau drew criticism from several quarters -- including Andrew Breitbart, who touted O'Keefe's ACORN videos and who said last week that O'Keefe should deliver "a candid and public explanation" of the matter.

"It's not his detractors to whom he also owes this public airing," Breitbart said. "It's to his legion of supporters."

Boudreau was tipped to the plan by a member of O'Keefe's organization, Izzy Santa, who also warned a donor that the planned prank "has the potential for unnecessary backlash." O'Keefe said Santa "was simply trying to protect me and the organization from a dangerous and objectionable plan," but she "assumed, wrongly, and probably due to my own lack of communication to her" that the project was still on.

In a statement released through CNN, Boudreau said, "I am not interested in debating James O'Keefe about what his plans were for me on his boat. His statement reinforces what we reported in our documentary."