Project Veritas sues James O’Keefe, the organization’s former CEO
In the latest chapter of a bitter split that began earlier this year, investigative journalism organization Project Veritas filed suit this week against its founder and former head, James O'Keefe, as the Daily Caller reports.
The company's move comes several months after O'Keefe and the company parted ways in a less-than-amicable and highly public fashion.
Veritas Sues O'Keefe
According to the complaint filed in federal court in New York, the Project Veritas board was alerted to what it called “serious allegations” from employees regarding “troubling workplace and financial misconduct” on the part of O'Keefe.
The lawsuit contends that O'Keefe “routinely behaved unprofessionally during team meetings,” screamed at colleagues, and belittled their value to the organization.
Female employees were, the complaint alleges, particularly frequent targets of O'Keefe's ire, manifestations which were said to include “inappropriate” personal commentary.
O'Keefe's supposed lack of professionalism toward staff extended to include lateness for scheduled meetings as well as last-minute cancellations.
Financial Concerns Raised
The complaint further suggests that the manner in which O'Keefe conducted the organization's business affairs led to “strained relationships” with key donors, something the board believed jeopardized the entity's continued financial viability.
Further endangering the financial health of the enterprise, according to the complaint, was O'Keefe's alleged misuse of company funds for personal expenses.
The lawsuit accuses O'Keefe of using a company credit card to cover luxury hotel accommodations, private car services, first-class air travel, and more – all counter to stated policy.
In addition, according to the complaint, O'Keefe – on behalf of a competitor entity he founded after leaving Project Veritas – has solicited and siphoned donors by using a private contributor list “in direct violation of his employment agreement,” doing so before he was officially ousted from the company.
The events that ultimately led to the professional divorce between O'Keefe and Project Veritas began to unfold earlier this year, and questions about the precise state of the parties' relationship persisted for some time, as the Associated Press previously reported.
Things began to go public when members of the company's board issued a statement indicating that some staffers “provided leadership with some verbal feedback describing real management concerns regarding the treatment of people and our internal processes.”
Subsequently, the board's directors denied that they had fired O'Keefe – though he had taken the dispute public – and said that they had not asked him to resign.
Despite the board's insistence that it hoped to “work things out with James,” O'Keefe clearly had a different take on the situation, filming a lengthy video in the organization's offices in which he said he was “packing up” to leave for good.
“What Has Changed?”
Seemingly baffled by the rift, O'Keefe said in his video, “[n]one of this makes any sense, and why is this happening right now? Those are the questions I have. I don't have answers,” though he seemed to allude to a bombshell sting operation he had recently conducted in which pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was implicated in potentially scandalous research practices related to COVID-19.
As Fox News noted at the time, O'Keefe acknowledged that he had perhaps not always been “a compassionate leader,” and he described that as a “fault,” but he chalked it up to having an unshakeable work ethic and devotion to the truth.
O'Keefe went on to promise followers that he would continue to engage in hard-hitting investigative journalism, noting, “I'm not done. The mission will perhaps take on a new name, and it may no longer be called Veritas, Project Veritas.”
Indeed, the controversial founder went on to launch O'Keefe Media Group – a direct rival to his former company home – and whether he and the organization he once ran to great acclaim within conservative circles can ultimately resolve their dispute and move forward, only time will tell.