MBU Hosts Eric O’Keefe | Leadership Breakfast 9.15.2022

This breakfast was sponsored by ITU AbsorbTech

Community members, Maranatha faculty, staff, and students gathered early on September 15 to hear Eric O’Keefe. Steve Board opened the meeting and introduced O’Keefe as a returning breakfast speaker. 

O’Keefe, a political activist in the state of Wisconsin, was “one of the many conservatives targeted in the second John Doe investigation related to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R). O’Keefe violated the gag order that is a hallmark of John Doe investigations, shedding light on what he contended was a politically-motivated witch hunt.” (Ballotpedia)

At the Leadership Breakfast on September 15, O’Keefe shared his story. 

Nine years ago, October 3, 2013, O’Keefe’s house was on a list to be raided by the police. He found this out shortly before arriving at Maranatha on October 3 to speak at the Leadership Breakfast. His head was swirling as he spoke. 

“I honestly can’t remember what I talked about,” he shared with the 2022 audience. “I was getting ready to meet with my attorneys. I remember telling a few men after breakfast about the gag order and they prayed for me.” 

O’Keefe transitioned briefly to share how this list of homes to be raided affected the “peaceful citizens of Wisconsin.” He shared that several homes were raided at 6 A.M. – which, in October, is before daylight. Families with teenage children and younger were given no explanation as to why their home was being raided. In one home, a 16-year-old boy was the only one home. 

The police raided these homes for two and a half hours. In the end, the families were instructed to not tell anyone, except their lawyer, what had happened. 

O’Keefe was spared the home raid. Instead, he was given a subpoena with a gag order. 

Over the next three years, he was on the offensive. He campaigned and eventually won the case in Wisconsin and in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

But his biggest disappointment was that he doesn’t believe he changed anyone’s mind. 

He learned that America is not exempt from a corrupt government. People are people no matter what country you live in. But because O’Keefe does live in America, he was able to exercise the right to free speech. 

“I didn’t want to hate the enemy,” O’Keefe stated. “It’s not right to call them ‘evil people’. They didn’t like our politics and they believed they were doing good.” 

He quoted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “‘If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’”

Today, O’Keefe wonders if he took the right steps and made the right decisions. 

“We weren’t put on earth to just “be happy”. We’re here to serve, be challenged, and be engaged,” he stated. 

As to free speech and a free market, O’Keefe said, “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought. We need to allow others the freedom to say and do stupid things.”

O’Keefe closed with a q&a time. 

Join us on October 11, 2022, to hear Dave Gerry, CEO of the Princeton Club, on “First Things First”. Register here