What on earth is going on at Project Veritas?
For an organization that's done great work exposing what's said in private, there sure is a lot of mystery surrounding the exit of James O'Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, who's been ousted in some way from that organization in a series of events this month.
O'Keefe is to Project Veritas what Steve Jobs was to Apple, so just the idea that the board of his company could oust him him from the nonprofit he founded really does seem like a bad idea.
According to the Associated Press:
MAMARONECK, N.Y. Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe said in a speech posted online Monday that he has been removed as the right-wing group's leader. In remarks that appeared to have been made at a Project Veritas' office, O'Keefe said the board had stripped him of all decision-making. The move comes after the board reportedly put him on leave from his role as chairman amid complaints about his treatment of staff at the organization, which is known for using hidden cameras and hiding identities to try to ensnare journalists in embarrassing conversations and to reveal supposed liberal bias. “So currently, I have no job at Project Veritas," O'Keefe said in the video. “I have no position here based upon what the board has done. So I’m announcing to you all that today on President's Day, I’m packing up my personal belongings.”
Since it’s already out there, here are my heartfelt remarks to my staff this morning.— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) February 21, 2023
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 pic.twitter.com/NwHivwR1EM… https://t.co/X1lKCnwuif
Now, it's obviously just his perspective as to why he was leaving and why he was at least effectively fired. He admitted to being a harsh boss. It's known that he could be self-aggrandizing and had an ego -- people who found great original enterprises often do -- why the board couldn't deal with that is weird stuff. Vanity Fair had a grand old time talking about staff he alienated, supposedly a third of them. O'Keefe said he believed the board's antagonism to him had something to do with his recent expose of Pfizer, making one wonder if maybe one or more of the board members was a Pfizer investor or Pfizer operative on some level. It may be that the Project Veritas board was infiltrated by a Lincoln Project-type, a neverTrump who always stands for the establishment. The establishment, it should be noted, carries deep grudges against O'Keefe.
O'Keefe said the board found that he fired someone he needed board clearance to fire (so what's stopping him from unfiring him?), and there seemed to be a fishing expedition against him by the board, looking for something to pin on him from the employees of the company, and at least some criticized him on his expense reports, for taking "Black Cars" (he asked why they seemed to think it was so important that the cars were black, not unreasonably), and for a claim that he laid down a large downpayment for his upcoming wedding with (I think he said) Kennedy, a Fox News host. He denied he did such a thing.
It's their word against his, and it seems he would probably be making a decent enough salary -- as would she -- to be paying for a wedding. They don't seem like church mice, although it is primarily an honesty issue. Using NGO funds to pay for personal things, of course, is not unknown in the NGO world, but O'Keefe is as adamant that it didn't happen as they were to accuse him.
Has O'Keefe been dishonest or unethical in his work product? It doesn't seem so to me. Did he come off as dishonest in his long video? No, unless he's a psychopathic liar, which we would have heard about earlier. The expenses issue, meanwhile, seems like an awfully piddly thing even if it were true, given O'Keefe's importance to his organization. They couldn't scold him, make him pay the money back, and maybe put an overseer upon whatever checks he writes?
And this is a big "if," assuming thee whole thing is true.
Against O'Keefe's word is the board's word and they wrote out their stance thusly:
Project Veritas’ Board of Directors has released a full statement on why they got rid of James O’Keefe and the implication is that he spent too much money on Uber rides to meet with donors in person and that he should’ve done it on Zoom. No joke. https://t.co/nw9mPqFNsN— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) February 21, 2023
It was odd that they claimed they didn't fire O'Keefe, he fired himself or something and they actually wanted him back. There was a lot of nattering about on expenses.
It may be that the board was feeling heat.
Steve Bannon, for one, blasted them.
Twitter followers dropped for Project Veritas, and rose for O'Keefe himself.
In less than 24 hours, Project Veritas has lost 240,000 Twitter followers and over 50,000 YouTube subscribers.— John D (@RedWingGrips) February 21, 2023
The people stand with James O'Keefe. pic.twitter.com/zKfSLyWDCh
James O’Keefe now has more Twitter followers than Project Veritashttps://t.co/vm4M8bxV3P— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 21, 2023
Meanwhile, GatewayPundit reports that the reporters loyal to O'Keefe are planning to walk out and follow O'Keefe if he is ousted. That's a dramatic turn, more dramatic if it happens.
It's hard to say what's happening, but it seems tremendously bad judgment to get rid of the project's founder, who has widespread support and imagine the organization can carry on as before without them.
It reminds me of The Intercept's break with Glenn Greenwald. Once in awhile we will hear about some investigation The Intercept has done, but the public focus remains on Glenn Greenwald, its ousted founder, who continues to draw attention.
O'Keefe, meanwhile, declared that he would start over and continue doing what he has always done, with another organization, and it seems the Twitter followers, and csome of the donors, perhaps, are showing their support for him. If so, that may mean we have two major expose organizations targeting the establishment instead of one, but that seems optimistic.
Perhaps more information will come out about what's going on, but for now, the facts seem murky. One can only wish O'Keefe well and hope the board snaps to its senses. It would be tough to keep Project Veritas going without the big personality of James O'Keefe. One can only hope that the board figures this out before it's too late. Project Veritas under O'Keefe has been a force of nature.
Image: Twitter screen shot