James O’Keefe resigned on Feb. 20 from Project Veritas, the journalism organization he founded.
Breaking (2/22/23): Project Veritas Staffers tell Board: Quit or We Walk!
by Zachary Stieber, The Epoch Times, February 21, 2022
O’Keefe announced his resignation in front of staff members in New York.
O’Keefe said he was removed from the Project Veritas board of directors and stripped of his authority as CEO, which ultimately forced him to leave the group.
“I need to make clear I have not resigned from the company, Project Veritas, I founded 13 years ago. I was stripped of my position as CEO and Chairman. I came to the PV office today to remove my personal belongings. If you’re wondering what’s next, stay tuned,” he said in a written statement.
Project Veritas Executive Director Daniel Strack said on Feb. 15 that O’Keefe had not been removed from Project Veritas and that he was “committed to working with James.”
The group’s board of directors said Monday that it uncovered “financial malfeasance,” alleging that O’Keefe “has spent an excessive amount of donor funds in the last three years on personal luxuries.”
The board said that a preliminary review showed O’Keefe spent $14,000 on a charter flight to meet someone to fix his boat while presenting the trip as a meeting with a donor. O’Keefe also allegedly spent over $150,000 over 18 months on “black cars.”
O’Keefe said he told a Project Veritas officer on Feb. 1, during a meeting, that the officer needed to follow the CEO’s lead or be terminated. The following day, the officer was fired, according to O’Keefe. The conflict was said to stem from disagreement over how to handle fundraising for the nonprofit.
Later on Feb. 2, O’Keefe recounted, he was informed by a different Project Veritas officer, over the phone, that the officer was going to the Project Veritas board to restructure the company. O’Keefe said he received an agenda for the board meeting as he was set to depart on a flight, and that the meeting was scheduled for the moment he was due to land.
Click Here to Watch the Newest We the People Convention News & Opinion Podcast!
“It became clear to me in that moment [that] I would be removed from my position at Project Veritas,” O’Keefe said.
He said he asked the officer what Project Veritas would tell its supporters if he were removed. The officer allegedly said the supporters wouldn’t have to find out. O’Keefe said he was shocked by the answer.
O’Keefe said he tried to offer an apology for the tone he used during a contested leadership meeting but the board refused to accept the apology and aired grievances against him for hours, including allegations that he took a sandwich from a worker.
At the end of the meeting, the board allegedly voted to strip O’Keefe of his duties and placed him on leave for two weeks.
The board said O’Keefe “left us no choice but to suspend him in the last few weeks when he unilaterally fired the CFO, who can only be fired with Board approval.”
The suspension was made to give the board time to “properly investigate” O’Keefe, the board said.
O’Keefe said he went off the grid and went hiking. Within a few days, though, he started receiving calls from board members.
On Feb. 10, according to O’Keefe, the board met again and suspended O’Keefe indefinitely and removed him from the board.
“If I have no authority, I can’t make any decisions,” O’Keefe said.
On Feb. 15, the board, through Strack, issued its statement. The same day, the group shared a picture of O’Keefe hiking. The post included saying O’Keefe was enjoying a vacation.
New allegations soon came forward, including a claim that Project Veritas paid a downpayment for a wedding for O’Keefe. “I’m not married. I have never been married,” O’Keefe said, calling the accusations “truly bizarre.”
O’Keefe said he asked the board members to resign or else he’d be forced to walk away from the group he founded in 2010.
Because the board did not resign, O’Keefe chose to leave.
Click Here to Sign-up to get We the People Convention Emails and/or Text Messages!
The board said its probe found donor money was being misappropriated.
“James was suspended indefinitely pending the resolution of a fulsome investigation and clarity which will need to be provided by a third party investigative audit report,” the board said.
“We could not allow for our donors to send us money and have it be misappropriated in such a way. We love our supporters, and we would never sit idly by as money is being used for matters that are not mission related,” it added.
O’Keefe said he wasn’t sure why he was being ousted, but pointed to the recent Project Veritas videos featuring a Pfizer executive talking about mutating COVID-19.
“Nothing about how I’ve conducted myself over the past 13 years has really fundamentally changed until now. So what has changed in the last three weeks? What has changed? The only thing that has changed is that we broke the biggest story in our organization’s history,” he said.
O’Keefe said he is not finished.
“I’m intending to start anew,” he said.
“Our mission continues,” he added later. “I’m not done. The mission will perhaps take on a new name. … I’ll need a bunch of people around me and I’ll make sure you know how to find me.”
O’Keefe said that he hoped to see some of the Project Veritas employees soon.
The board said: “Even with all of this public fallout, the Board still wants to speak with James. We did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign. We would like to continue conversations with James to resolve internal matters rather than litigate them publicly. Project Veritas will continue to be transparent with the public as more information can be released over time. The fight for truth will never stop.”
R.C. Maxwell, a Project Veritas employee and O’Keefe ally, wrote on Twitter that O’Keefe “was removed from his position as CEO by the Project Veritas board.”
“They are in charge now,” Maxwell said.
Neil McCabe, national political correspondent for One America News Network and a former spokesman for Project Veritas, told The Epoch Times that he understands O’Keefe departed without a severance package.
“James O’Keefe is the most significant journalist of his generation, and he’s broken some of the most incredible stories in the last 15 years,” McCabe said. “He will succeed at whatever he sets his mind to.”
READ MORE AT THE EPOCH TIMES.COM