Project Veritas Suspends Founder James O’Keefe Amid Allegations of Arrogance and Abuse
Project Veritas, an undercover video and journalism non-profit organization, has recently suspended its founder James O’Keefe after employee allegations of poor management.
An internal message sent to Project Veritas employees by its executive director, Daniel Strack, that The Daily Beast obtained stated that O’Keefe would be taking “a few weeks of well-deserved PTO.” The Intelligencer claims an image of the message was shared by a source familiar with the matter and independently verified by a current Veritas employee.
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After the news broke, Strack released a statement defending the company’s actions.
“Like all newsrooms at this stage, the Project Veritas Board of Directors and Management are constantly evaluating what the best path forward is for the organization….There are 65+ employees at Project Veritas dedicated to continuing the mission to expose corruption, dishonesty, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions. To our supporters: We hear you, we care about you, and we will never give up.”
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While the message sounds laid back, it’s anything but. O’Keefe is the organization’s founder, public face, and primary guiding force. And now the organization is considering removing him.
The internal memo cites O’Keefe’s attitude towards employees as the driving factor. It claimed employees “were troubled and frustrated” by O’Keefe’s “outright cruel” behavior. “I would describe Project Veritas’ current environment with this saying: ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves,’” one staffer wrote in the memo.
Another staffer accused O’keefe of becoming “a power-drunk tyrant.” Another anecdote argues that O’Keefe berated them in public over a sandwich. “I was yelled at in front of jurors because he was hungry, and then he took the 8-month pregnant woman’s sandwich,” the complaint reads. One part of the memo implies O’Keefe even spat on employees. “Rule #1: You can’t spit in an employee’s face over a tweet,” the message reads. “True story.”
O’Keefe, paranoid about leaks out of the organization, conducted at least one “mole hunt,” including private investigators and requiring employees to take lie detector tests. “If you can’t trust your own team, let alone your own team leaders, what kind of trust do you claim to have?” one employee complained in the memo.
More generally, employees complained that O’Keefe was just abusive generally, using terms like “verbal abuse,” “publicly humiliated,” and “public crucifixions.”
At one point, the memo alleges O’Keefe called Project Veritas staffer Spencer Meads —someone so p[prominent in the group that he had his home raided, a “pussy.”
The memo also alleges O’Keefe was alienating the donors in other ways. While Veritas is best known for undercover stings, journalism, and video, O’Keefe poured donor money into promotional projects such as Oklahoma! Musical with him as the lead and a dance number featuring himself in a bulletproof vest. O’Keefe was also allegedly generally standoffish with donors, badgering them for large checks and refusing to take a picture with one who asked. “She was humiliated to the point of tears,” the memo claims.
It’s critical to note that these anecdotes are currently unverified, and all employees who wrote in the memo remain anonymous, leading some to speculate the ousting may be a “deep state” coup instead of genuine complaints. At present, which theory is correct is unclear. The memo comes as Veritas is in legal hot water. After dodging a bullet with Joe Biden’s daughter’s diary,
The internal dissension comes as Project Veritas faces several threats, including an FBI investigation and an ex-employee lawsuit alleging O’Keefe oversaw a raucous, sexually charged workplace with at least one drug overdose. Project Veritas has denied breaking any laws in the FBI investigation and is fighting the lawsuit. In December, the group laid off several staffers.
O’Keefe has not commented at this time.
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