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Project Veritas' board of directors lobs accusations of 'financial malfeasance' at James O'Keefe while hemorrhaging support online. O'Keefe responds.
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Project Veritas' board of directors lobs accusations of 'financial malfeasance' at James O'Keefe while hemorrhaging support online. O'Keefe responds.

Following James O'Keefe's reported resignation from Project Veritas, the company's board of directors issued a statement accusing its outgoing founder and chairman of buying himself luxury gifts with donor money and mistreating employees.

While the board of the investigative journalism outfit aired its allegedly dirty laundry, Project Veritas hemorrhaged supporters online. O'Keefe, who intimated in a Monday address that Project Veritas' explosive Pfizer exposé may have something to do with this internal conflict, has alternatively seen a significant spike in followers.

What are the details?

TheBlaze reported earlier this month that O'Keefe had been placed on paid leave, with the organization contemplating ousting him from his role of chairman.

Project Veritas' board of directors appeared to confirm these suspicions in its Monday statement, noting that O'Keefe had been "suspended indefinitely pending the resolution of a fulsome investigation and clarity which will need to be provided by a third party investigative audit report."

In a Monday address, O'Keefe confirmed that he had been suspended on Feb. 10 without compensation as the result of a 3-2 board vote. The board reportedly also stripped him of his authority and limited his access to proprietary information.

The board claimed that despite multiple attempts to "have a conversation with James ... he ignored our outreach and decided to instead leak private information to others," then ultimately removed his belongings from the company's headquarters on Monday.

"There were two subjects that the Board wished to come to terms with James on: the company’s long-term sustainability based on staff retention and morale, and the company’s financial health — which has been a serious concern for several months now," said the statement.

The board indicated that the company's founder and chairman had spent "an excessive amount of donor funds in the last three years on personal luxuries."

Among the alleged expenditures:

  • "$14,000 on a charter flight to meet someone to fix his boat under the guise of meeting with a donor";
  • "$60,000 in losses by putting together dance events such as Project Veritas Experience";
  • "Over $150,000 in Black Cars in the last 18 months"; and
  • "Thousands of dollars spent on DJ and other equipment for personal use."

The board suggested that O'Keefe was not explicitly suspended for the alleged financial malfeasance, but rather for "unilaterally" firing the CFO and indicating that a board member had approved the firing.

In their statement, the board underscored that they wanted to keep donors' money coming, writing that "more than anything, the Board cares about the donors of this organization, who decided to donate their hard-earned money to us because they believe in the mission. We could not allow for our donors to send us money and have it be misappropriated in such a way."

The board finally claimed, "We did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign."

O'Keefe's farewell address

After 13 years with the company, O'Keefe said his farewells to the Project Veritas staff in a Presidents' Day address, in which he drew a parallel to the termination of Steve Jobs from Apple, a company the late tech magnate had similarly founded.

O'Keefe recalled a statement from a former board member, who said, "Project Veritas will never be stopped from the outside. It will only be because we stopped ourselves" and amended it to say that Project Veritas will only be defeated "if they take our spirit."

He admitted that he hasn't been a particularly compassionate leader, but said he has made a difference where it counts, highlighting that the nonprofit's yearly revenue has grown from $738,210 in 2012 to over $22 million in 2020.

Responding to the accusations leveled by some of the board, O'Keefe indicated that his conduct and expenditures had proved satisfactory to external auditors, adding that "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? ... The only thing that has changed is that we broke the biggest story in our organization's history ... Pfizer."

"Our video [on Pfizer] became a global phenomenon. It was about Pfizer and one of the directors discussing mutating the virus," said O'Keefe.

Consequently, suggested O'Keefe, Project Veritas' "employees' and board members' Twitter accounts also exploded like never before," and Pfizer was forced to respond with a "non-denial denial."

"And then suddenly, an unusual emergency happened just a few days after that. ... On Thursday, February 2, a few days after the Pfizer story, I was informed by an officer of Project Veritas ... that he would resign unless I stepped down as CEO" over differences of opinion about fundraising strategies, said O'Keefe.

The disagreement ultimately boiled over, and when the officer allegedly refused to resign, O'Keefe said he fired him.

Following this action, another officer allegedly cautioned O'Keefe that he would go to the board to call an emergency vote to restructure the company. This internal turmoil reportedly continue to snowball, culminating in O'Keefe's suspension.

In his address, O'Keefe remarked about some of the board's accusations.

Concerning his use of black cars to travel for work, he said, "I don't know the significance of the color of the vehicle."

O'Keefe said that his use of charter jets "over the years to pack multiple PV meetings in a day" proved fortuitous, in one instance enabling him to raise $2 million in a single day, but that the "revenue part was omitted" in the board's accusation.

Reflecting on his history with Project Veritas, O'Keefe noted, "The external threats and pressure inflicted against myself and some of us has been unimaginable."

He cited numerous instances in which his investigative reporting got him into hot water, including getting "handcuffed by the FBI in two separate occasions, 12 years apart. Having my phones confiscated and private information leaked to the New York Times. Being placed on effective house arrest for three years between May of 2010 and May of 2013. Being sued dozens of times. Being served two separate criminal grand jury subpoenas in New Hampshire in the last ten years. Getting pursued in a high-speed chase by a New Jersey education union official. ... Getting my home raided by the FBI. Having my loved ones put in handcuffs in the hallway."

O'Keefe concluded by indicating he would continue his work, possibly at an organization with another name, and emphasized to his staff that he would need a few good men and women at his side.

According to Social Blade, Project Veritas lost nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter on Monday, and continues to bleed followers on Tuesday, having lost approximately 49,000 as of the time of publication.

O'Keefe, on the other hand, secured 79,944 new followers on Monday and is set to far exceed that figure on Feb. 21. He now has over 1.3 million Twitter followers, nearly 80,000 more than his former company.

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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