In a tearful farewell address, James O’Keefe announced that he had been removed from Project Veritas, the undercover journalism operation he founded.
O’Keefe was placed on administrative leave by the Project Veritas board earlier this month after he reportedly fired a board member due to a significant conflict of visions.
In a 44 minute video filmed at Project Veritas headquarters and posted Monday on social media, O’Keefe explained that the “conflict’ stemmed from “tactical disagreements about the boldness of approaches for soliciting donations.”
“We measure in terms of what we produce, not just in terms of our wallets,” O’Keefe said, adding that the conflict had “boiled over” and led to O’Keefe firing the board member.
Later that day, while he was on-board a flight to Nashville, O’Keefe said that another Project Veritas board member called for an “emergency vote to restructure this company.”
O’Keefe said that’s when he realized that “I would be removed from my position at Project Veritas by the time I landed at my destination.”
BREAKING VIDEO: James O'Keefe addresses Project Veritas staff as he exits from the organization he founded following a high-profile board dispute. "Our mission continues on. I'm not done. The mission will perhaps take on a new name…" pic.twitter.com/0fZov5AXa3
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 20, 2023
During his remarks, O’Keefe displayed a text message from a Veritas board member telling a Veritas journalist that he would get a pay raise if the company was “restructured.”
“The board member deleted the message, but not before our journalist took screen shots,” O’Keefe said.
James O'Keefe shows a text message from a Veritas board member to one of their journalists bragging about getting a raise if O'Keefe is forced out. pic.twitter.com/kI38NwtF97
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 20, 2023
O’Keefe also defended himself against a board member’s allegation that he had used corporate funds for a wedding, saying the funds were appropriately used for a company Christmas party.
James O'Keefe says that a Project Veritas officer lied to the board about him using corporate funds for a "wedding" despite the fact that he's never been married and that it was used for the company Christmas party. pic.twitter.com/ujiJvDMC0M
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 20, 2023
The muckraker got emotional as he recalled the fateful day the Veritas board turned against him.
“When I left the office on February 6 after being stripped of all my authority, I saw my father and I gave him a hug realizing just how honest and real of a man he is,” said O’Keefe. Both my parents are as genuine and as down to earth as a son could ever have,” he added, his voice breaking.
O’Keefe explained that 13 years ago, the feds would come to his home “to make sure that I was inside my house,” administer random drug tests and rifles through his expenses. This would have been after he was arrested for entering then-U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office with two colleagues under false pretenses. O’Keefe was investigating complaints that constituents calling the Democrat’s office couldn’t get through to criticize her support for ObamaCare. At the time, O’Keefe was massively in debt, as he had not yet launched his fundraising operation.
“I didn’t have any money, but they went through my debit card statements and tried to get me to sign things to prove I wasn’t lying,” O’Keefe said. “There were federal agents showing up at my parents’ house. There were no donors. There were no supporters and I was not trending on Twitter. Mt father went through that hell with me and stood up to those bullies on the front lawn and told them to stop harassing our family,” he continued.
“And at that point, that’s all I had—was him,” O’Keefe said, wiping away a tear. “I was otherwise completely alone. I will never forget that.”
O’Keefe said the “good news” is “we’re no longer alone.”
James O’Keefe breaks down in final speech to his team #fuckprojectveritas #projectveritas #jamesokeefe pic.twitter.com/Al8mv8BlU5
— Random fella (@random___fella) February 20, 2023
“Our mission continues on. I’m not done,” O’Keefe said in conclusion. “The mission will perhaps take on a new name and it may be no longer called [Project] Veritas. I will need a bunch of people around me. And I’ll make sure you know how to find me.”
The entire address can be viewed below:
🚨BREAKING: James O'Keefe's Remarks to Project Veritas Staff: "I've been removed from CEO and Board"
WATCH James' FULL COMMENTS here: pic.twitter.com/9LK4jLEPRw
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) February 20, 2023
Since O’Keefe’s announcement, Project Veritas appears to be bleeding Twitter followers:
This has got to be one of the biggest unforced errors in corporate history.#ProjectVeritas #JamesOKeefe https://t.co/043hcwSban
— Carpe Donktum🔹 (@CarpeDonktum) February 20, 2023
The Project Veritas Board of Directors put out a statement Monday afternoon claiming they did not fire O’Keefe, and still want to talk to him. In the statement, posted in full below, the board alleges that O’Keefe had misappropriated donor funds, listing a number of examples.
Today, James O’Keefe decided to remove his belongings from Project Veritas headquarters. The Board and Management made numerous attempts in the last 14 days to have a conversation with James, but he ignored our outreach and decided to instead leak private information to others, either by doing so himself or by proxy.
As today is President’s Day, our office was closed. We had a Board meeting scheduled for tomorrow where James was invited, and there was also a Board meeting on Friday, February 10, where James was invited (but did not attend) to discuss the financial malfeasance that was discovered, which requires us to act in order to remain in compliance with the law.
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.
Although PV Leadership has not concluded looking into the full scale of financial issues over the years, a preliminary review at this time indicates that James has spent an excessive amount of donor funds in the last three years on personal luxuries. More is still being uncovered during the ongoing review at this time. Contrary to many reports from today, James was suspended indefinitely pending the resolution of a fulsome investigation and clarity which will need to be provided by a third party investigative audit report.
Here are a few examples of what has been uncovered so far by PV Leadership (this is far from an exhaustive list, it is merely a small representative sample):
-$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
-Thousands of dollars spent on DJ and other equipment for personal use
-Hundreds of other acts of personal inurement
The Board wants to work things out with James, and has tried every route possible to remedy the issues at hand and begin to take the legally required corrective actions.
James also left us no choice but to suspend him in the last few weeks when he unilaterally fired the CFO, who can only be fired with Board approval. That is a violation of our non-profit’s bylaws. James went as far as to say that a Board member had approved this firing to others, but it was later discovered that it was not the case. That member did not approve the firing. The Board approved James’ suspension so it would have time to properly investigate these internal infractions.
The Board has a legal obligation to comply with state and federal law, and these matters are serious ones that cannot be ignored.
James claims that the Board did not allow him to send an apology letter to the staff, which is not true. The Board never told James he was not to speak with staff members, nor that he could not apologize to them.
But, more than anything, the Board cares about the donors of this organization, who decide 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. We love our supporters, and we would never sit idly by as money is being used for matters that are not mission related.
Even with all of this public fallout, the Board still wants to speak with James. We did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign. We would like to continue conversations with James to resolve internal matters rather than litigate them publicly.
Project Veritas will continue to be transparent with the public as more information can be released over time. The fight for truth will never stop.