Project Veritas drama: James O’Keefe under investigation as layoffs roil journalism outfit

Project Veritas is known for its bombshell exposes, but a pair of startling disclosures saw the undercover journalism outfit making instead of breaking the news.

Founder James O’Keefe, who was forced out by the board in February, is under investigation by the Westchester County district attorney in New York for undisclosed reasons, a probe that comes after Project Veritas accused him of spending donor funds on personal luxuries.

The report, which first appeared Friday in The Nation, coincided with Project Veritas laying off staffers in response to flagging fundraising spurred by the firing of the charismatic O’Keefe, who had become synonymous with the organization that he founded in 2010.

Project Veritas CEO Hannah Giles, who took over in June, said Friday that “leadership determined that the time had come for an organizational reset.”

“Layoffs were a difficult, but necessary, decision to maintain the long-term sustainability of Project Veritas after six months of false narratives surrounding James’ choice to leave Project Veritas significantly impacted donations,” Ms. Giles told The Washington Times. “It is our hope that truth-seeking donors will reengage in the Veritas mission of investigative journalism that exposes corruption and brings transparency to the American people.”

Her statement came a day after a tweet appeared on the group’s account saying “SOS Hannah Giles just fired us all.” The tweet was quickly deleted.
“The board and I have taken the steps necessary to ensure that Project Veritas will be here to challenge the narrative, expose corruption, and hold the powerful accountable on behalf of the American people for years to come,” said Ms. Giles in her statement. “Our commitment to follow the story, work harder, go deeper, and inform the public of what we find has never been stronger.”

Project Veritas sued Mr. O’Keefe in May for breach of contract, saying he “engaged in a campaign to disparage Project Veritas to its donors and solicit them to donate to OMG,” or the O’Keefe Media Group, his newly launched outlet.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in New York also accused him of engaging in personal and financial misconduct, saying he used donor funds for “lavish expenses” such as $150,000 for private cars and a $10,000 helicopter flight “without a clear benefit to Project Veritas.”

A spokesperson confirmed Friday that the Westchester County DA is “looking into” matters concerning Mr. O’Keefe, the Associated Press reported.

O’Keefe attorney Jeffrey Lichtman pointed the finger at “disgruntled former employees of Project Veritas who had a problem with their CEO using too many car services to pay for fundraising efforts which paid their salaries.”

“We were told by the new Project Veritas CEO that the investigation had ended,” Mr. Lichtman told the AP. “If it’s not, we will crush it in court.”

Ms. Giles denied the claim, saying “Project Veritas did not initiate any potential investigation the Westchester DA’s office may be conducting with respect to James O’Keefe. However, PV cooperates with the authorities as required by law.”

Ms. Giles and Mr. O’Keefe go way back: They posted as a prostitute and pimp in a 2009 undercover video probe that led to the shuttering of the left-tilting Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [ACORN].

Since Mr. O’Keefe’s departure, Project Veritas has struggled despite continuing to “break stories that much of the mainstream media won’t touch,” said Ms. Giles.

“In recent weeks, we have exposed massive corruption in New York City’s migrant care contracting, authenticated Ashley Biden’s shocking diary of alleged disgusting behavior by the President, and revealed hundreds of secret Chinese government documents uncovering their plan for developing biotech, military tech, and more – at the expense of Americans,” she said.

Project Veritas is known for its hidden-camera stings of typically left-of-center targets, including labor unions, media companies and Democratic operatives.

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