A THIRD-RATE BREAK-IN IN LOUISIANA…. James O’Keefe became something of a right-wing hero when he released a “heavily edited” video — featuring him posing as a pimp — intended to discredit ACORN. It now appears O’Keefe will be known for something entirely different.

The conservative young filmmaker whose undercover sting damaged a liberal activist group last year faces federal criminal charges in an alleged plot to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

James O’Keefe was among four men who created a ruse to enter the lawmaker’s downtown office, saying they needed to repair her telephones, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. O’Keefe used his cellphone to take pictures of two men, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who are accused in an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit of impersonating telephone company workers. Stanley Dai is accused of aiding the Jan. 25 plot.

All four were taken to a suburban New Orleans jail and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Keep in mind, O’Keefe was not just some random conservative gadfly. Just a few months ago, 31 far-right House Republicans introduced a congressional resolution to praise O’Keefe’s work, claiming he was “setting an example for concerned citizens across America.”

Yesterday, in light of the arrest, Rep. Pete Olson (R) of Texas said he still thinks O’Keefe is worthy of “praise,” but said he does not “condone” unlawful behavior. Olson wouldn’t say whether he would withdraw the resolution.

Support for the conservative activist extended beyond just the Hill. After ACORN sued O’Keefe and his cohorts for alleged “illegal videotaping” and distributing a doctored video, Sean Hannity, Andrew Breitbart, and other far-right figures helped raise money for their defense.

And Fox News, which went out of its way to help make O’Keefe a right-wing celebrity, hoped to downplay the significance of his arrest and apparent scheme. A network reporter told viewers that the scandal is a “very weird story that probably needs a lot of context.”

Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Michael McHale, meanwhile, is having plenty of fun with this, calling it “a Louisiana Watergate.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.