Joe Basel: From U of M-Morris to Louisiana Watergate

A local boy's rise to power in America's right wing

"I said, 'Holy shit!'" remembers Angel.

Angel drove the four down to the courthouse a few days later. A swath of reporters had amassed outside the building. Angel circled around to the back to avoid the media circus.

"It was kind of loose," Angel says. "I think they had it in their heads that once it was out what was really happening...that it would be quickly dissipated. It was kind of upbeat."


JUST AFTER 8 P.M., BASEL CALLS unexpectedly from a northern California number—one of his several cell phones, he says.

Since his release from jail, Basel has been traveling around the country conducting more hidden-camera investigations, he says. "As soon as we were out we were doing them again," he explains, but they're waiting for "better timing" to release the footage.

Although he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Basel talks about the case like it's a thing of the past—as though everyone has already realized they made a terrible mistake.

Basel's lackadaisical attitude toward the federal charges is in keeping with his newfound celebrity. At one point, he puts a reporter on hold to answer another phone.

"I'm in San Diego for a few days," he tells the caller. "They're getting nicer and nicer with their offers, so it's looking good for us."

Basel won't delve into the details of his case, except to say that it's been misrepresented in the media.

"It's journalistic malpractice," Basel says. "It's too bad because they're lying to the American people. And they did lie and they chose to lie about what happened in Louisiana. And it's an indictment of the mainstream media."

As the charges loom, Basel is certain the truth will come out and he will be cleared. Yet when asked what he was in Room 1005 to do, he will only offer the Latin word that has become the teabuggers' shibboleth: "veritas."

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