James O’Keefe announced a break with Project Veritas, the investigative group he founded, while hinting at a new journalism venture in the future.
In a video posted to Vimeo on Monday, O’Keefe said he was “stripped of all decision-making last week” and he described some clashes with leadership.
O’Keefe, who was standing in a Project Veritas office, said he was relieved of his authority as CEO for at least 180 days and removed from the Project Veritas board of directors, citing board meeting notes.
🚨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
“Currently, I have no job at Project Veritas,” he added. “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 here.”
O’Keefe also claimed he had issued an ultimatum to the board to resign, which was not heeded, and he hinted at a future beyond Project Veritas. “Our mission continues on. I’m not done. The mission will perhaps take on a new name,” he said.
The Project Veritas board released a statement Monday evening saying O’Keefe had been suspended indefinitely pending a third-party investigative audit report. The statement said O’Keefe not only faced allegations of financial malfeasance, but also improperly fired the group’s chief financial officer.
“Even with all of this public fallout, the Board still wants to speak with James,” the board said. “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.”
O’Keefe, who founded the nonprofit famous for its sting operations in 2011, claimed he had issued an ultimatum to the board to resign, which was not heeded.
Word of internal strife at Project Veritas burst into the public’s view when New York Magazine’s Intelligencer website reported on February 8 that O’Keefe took a paid leave from his leadership position while the board weighed his future with the company.
The report said Project Veritas Executive Director, Daniel Strack, told staffers in an internal memo that O’Keefe would be taking “a few weeks of well-deserved PTO.”
Around this time, it was revealed that 16 staffers signed a letter, dated February 6, raising several allegations against O’Keefe, including that he was “outright cruel” to members of the group. “James has become a power drunk tyrant and he is exactly who he pontificates on who we should be exposing,” the letter said.
Project Veritas released a statement on the evening of February 8, saying it was broadly in response to news reports.
The Project Veritas Board of Directors and Management “are constantly evaluating what the best path forward is for the organization,” the statement read, in part. The statement, which noted Project Veritas has 65-plus employees, did not directly address the situation involving O’Keefe.
With O’Keefe’s future at Project Veritas in question, Twitter user “Swig” shared an image of a cease-and-desist letter from a law firm representing donors addressed to the Project Veritas Board of Directors raising concerns about any effort to remove the founder.
Strack released another statement on February 15 asserting James had not been removed from Project Veritas. “James is the hardest working person I have ever met,” Strack said. “Those who know him well know that he will not take time off unless forced to.”
The controversy follows videos of a Project Veritas sting operation showing an alleged Pfizer research director on hidden camera seemingly spilling COVID secrets and then having a meltdown when confronted being watched millions of times.
In his video address released on Monday, O’Keefe said he does not have the “answers” for why the board was taking action against him. “But I’m confident that those reasons and motivations will come to light,” he said.
This breaking news story has been updated with a statement from the Project Veritas board of directors.