Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says that he has been removed by the board of the company he created.
A video of O’Keefe addressing Project Veritas staff on Monday morning has been provided to Timcast News.
“Journalism is reporting things that powerful people want kept hidden for the wrong reasons,” O’Keefe began.
O’Keefe said that “throughout my 13 years here, our mission has evolved from simply being about exposing the truth with help from some hidden cameras to something more transcendental– giving people hope.”
“I’ve felt despair, seen evil, and felt overcome these last few weeks,” O’Keefe continued. “You could say I’ve seen glimpses of heaven and of hell, of darkness, and of light. But what I take away from these is the gratitude and tears of joy I’ve experienced along the way. There is such goodness in so many of you, and the generosity and goodwill we have steadily built up over the past decade-and-a-half is everywhere around me: thousands of texts and phone calls poured in from people concerned about my well-being.”
“As I was going through this process, I reflected upon my appreciation for so many of you,” he continued. “What makes us great is that we do this work because we believe — we have a passion and a flair for storytelling, for principle, for doing the right thing, and for producing visual art — cinema verité – no matter what. These are ties that bind us.”
O’Keefe continued, “I know many of you have experienced despair alongside me, in spirit. One of you just told me you’d work at Walmart on the night shift, so you could do this during the day rather than be a sellout.”
“In fact, I know that is true of many of you, and many more out there who wish to be a part of this,” O’Keefe said. “I remember back in the beginning when I had no money: I would have to use bubble gum, duct tape, and my grandmother’s chinchilla. I literally had to place a Project Veritas sticker to a piece of cardboard and tape it to a RadioShack microphone because I was so broke — and this was after experiencing a meteoric high of the ACORN story. I became broke again because I was arrested and then crashed down to a meteoric low, back in the carriage house, resorting once again to bubble gum and duct tape to achieve the NPR investigation that took us yet again into a meteoric high. I was so broke that I had to scribble my name and phone numbers on ripped pieces of paper because I had no business cards.”
O’Keefe quoted Steve Jobs, and what he said after being fired from Apple, the company he founded, “the heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
The firebrand investigative journalist discussed many of the things he has been through with the company over the years, including “getting handcuffed by the FBI on two separate occasions, 12 years apart, having my phones confiscated and private information leaked to media, being placed on effective house arrest for three years, being sued dozens of times, being served two separate criminal grand jury subpoenas in NH, getting pursued in high-speed chase by a NJEA union official on Interstate 80, deposed many times over, suffering through mediation with insurance companies, facing two federal jury trials in three years, receiving hundreds of smears and false accusations, getting my home raided by the FBI, and having our office destroyed by a hurricane, which forced us into a temporary workspace before rebuilding, and stirred up disgruntled employees unloading grievances upon me.”
“Even so, as a former board member told me in 2013: Project Veritas will never be stopped from the outside – it will only be because we stopped ourselves,” O’Keefe said. “Prophetic as it may be, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the situation today — a situation where I have been stripped of my authority as CEO and removed from the board, contrary to what any public statements may say.”
Timcast News has also been provided with board minutes regarding O’Keefe — which included an “indefinite suspension” without compensation.
In his speech, O’Keefe also pointed to how he has helped to grow the company over the years.
O’Keefe said that “the truth is I have been hurried, pressed for time in the day-to-day while focused on growing Project Veritas and exposing as much as we possibly could, all the while moving at the speed-of-light to pack in as much fundraising per day as humanly possible so that we could build out our infrastructure to hire more journalists, enabling us to expose even more, ad infintum. And that’s what we did with our record number of stories, our impact, and our revenue, each growing year-over-year, every year, since 2011.”
“So what changed in the last three weeks?” O’Keefe asked.
“THE ONLY THING THAT HAS CHANGED is that we broke the biggest story in our organization’s history during the last week of January in 2023,” he said. “With 50+ million views, our video became a global phenomenon – it was about Pfizer and one of their directors discussing mutating the COVID virus. Our confrontation video, where he locked me in a pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, called the cops, and smashed our equipment, also became a phenomenon and was riveting television for audiences glued to their screens, where 10s of millions more shared that video. Outlets in India and China covered the story, and our social media exploded like never before. Our employees and board members Twitter accounts also exploded with new followers after the story. Pfizer even put out a non-denial denial, where they basically admitted they were mutating the virus, albeit Pfizer buried this admission in the legalese jargon of an official corporate statement. Still, it was extraordinary Pfizer responded to our story with an admission!”
“THAT – is the only thing that has changed. Then suddenly, an unusual emergency happened just a few days after the story,” he continued.
O’Keefe explained that “on Thursday, February 2nd, I was informed by an officer of PV on the phone while en route to the airport that he would resign unless I stepped down as CEO.”
He explained that there were differences over fundraising methods, but that “the conflict was an even more fundamental one, and essentially boiled down to this; my vision was – to paraphrase the architect Howard Roark from the Fountainhead — ‘I don’t build in order to have donors. I have donors in order to build.’ We don’t measure our success only in terms of how much revenue we bring in; we measure our success in terms of our impact.”
“The day prior, I had informed him in front of his colleagues that if he wasn’t willing to follow my lead, he’d be shown the door,” O’Keefe said. “I tried to deal with it privately, but I was unsuccessful, and the disagreement boiled over publicly in a staff meeting. The next day this individual refused to resign, so I fired him. Later that same day on Thursday, February 2rd, I was informed by a different officer that he would go to the board in a few hours and have an emergency vote with them to restructure the company! Receiving an agenda in my email while the doors of the airplane were closing, it became clear to me that I would be removed from the position of CEO by the time I landed at my destination.”
“My first question on the phone as I was staring at this agenda, cabin doors closing, was, ‘what are we going to tell our supporters if I am removed from my position?'” O’Keefe said. “My colleague who is an officer of PV responded by saying our supporters wouldn’t have to find out. I found this statement — that our supporters wouldn’t be informed of such an enormous change —to be a lapse in judgment so severe that it was itself a fireable offense. It would be impossible to hide my removal from my position at Project Veritas – to anybody.”
The Project Veritas founder continued, “as the CEO and chief fundraiser, I have to explain the context of my role in the organization with thousands of people each year while soliciting them, and I knew many of our supporters and donors may not continue to support us if I was removed as the Chief decision maker. We’ve shared who we are, our vision, our structure, and our strategy with everyone. In fact, hiding something so fundamental is something we stand against in principle — particularly with the amount of scrutiny we’re under. I was able to convince the board to push this ’emergency meeting’ back to Monday, February 6th.”
“On Sunday, February 5th, a board member requested my presence at his home. He informed me, ‘You had nothing to do with the Pfizer story.’ Perplexed by the statement, I whipped out my iPad showed him a video of myself confronting the Pfizer executive which had 11 million views on Twitter and 1.2 million views on YouTube,” O’Keefe said.
“But that was after the undercover video had already been done,” O’Keefe quoted the board member saying.
O’Keefe explained, “I pointed out that the brave journalist who recorded the interaction was someone that I had sat down with over a year prior and recruited, while talking him off a proverbial ledge, insisting he take the long and arduous road to get the story about Pfizer in question. And he did. The board member said he did not know that, and stated that another board member was persuading him to the contrary.”
“In the meeting on the 6th, I offered an apology letter for my tone of voice in the leadership meeting the week before that I intended to also share with our staff, but the board refused to accept this mea culpa, nor believe that it was sincere,” O’Keefe said. “They also did not support my sending it to the staff. Then I was subject to a 6.5 hour listing of grievances, including taking ‘black cars’ to meetings and taking a few charter jets over the years to pack multiple PV meetings in a single day. There were some truly bizarre grievances too, including my failure to record audio in one undercover encounter at a bar in upstate NY and an allegation that I stole a pregnant woman’s sandwich while in Federal court.”
“I asked how the remaining team will manage the company and what the plan was, but they didn’t provide one and it was clear that they didn’t have one,” O’Keefe said. “Then I was dismissed. I then went off the grid as requested on forced PTO. Within a few days of going off the grid, I received missed calls and texts from the same board members and officers who dismissed me. They informed the staff that they are waiting to hear from me! This was while I was commanded by a motion in a corporate board meeting to be on paid leave. Then an officer of PV took a screenshot of my read-receipts of his text messages and distributed that screenshot to staff, saying ‘You owe your team a response. Please allow communication.’ This was sent during the time the board demanded I be gone.”
On February 10th, another board meeting occurred, and O’Keefe said that he was indefinitely suspended from the board of directors. By this time, they had also stripped him of authority as CEO and kicked him off the board.
“I can’t be a CEO with no authority and without a position on the board, I wasn’t sure if I even had a role left at Project Veritas. I’m not sure what my job here is,” O’Keefe said. “Five days later, on February 15th, a statement was put out saying ‘James has not been removed from Project Veritas… James is the hardest working person I’ve ever met.’ Those who know him well know he will not take time off unless forced to.”
“Absent from the statement was the actions of the board to remove me from the board of directors and strip me of my authority as CEO,” O’Keefe said.
Later on the 15th, Project Veritas put out a statement by quote-tweeting a picture of O’Keefe hiking with Robert F Kennedy Jr.
The company quote tweeted it and wrote, “There is nothing better than enjoying a well-deserved vacation.”
“This is where things get really messed up,” O’Keefe said. “A few days later, an officer emailed the board with bizarre hyperbole and innuendo about certain expenses related to our business needs. Those included – and you can’t make this stuff up – that Project Veritas ‘paid for my wedding down payment.’ I got a chuckle out of this. I’m not married, I’ve never been married, but I do hope to get married one day.”
O’Keefe said, “the truth of the expense was that it was a payment for our annual PV Christmas party at the Highland Country Club in December of 2021 featuring all of our staff and many spouses. The officer lied by omission, excluding the purpose of paying for the wedding venue. Why would he do such a thing? There were also bizarre complaints about my taking too many trips to meetings over the course of a year and all the ‘black cars’ taken from airports to various meetings. The officer stated that we should do things such as “reschedule meetings” and that the IRS would prefer zoom meetings instead of in-person meetings. My lawyers got a real laugh out of that logic.”
“I was asked to be gone until the 20th — it is now the 20th. I asked the board to resign for their conduct, but they did not,” O’Keefe said. “So currently, I have no position at PV based on the board’s actions.”
“So, I’m announcing to you all that today on President’s day — I’m packing up my personal effects from headquarters, and I’m intending to start anew,” he said. “I don’t have answers to why they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing, or why board members were going directly to employees to collect a list of grievances on the week of our biggest story ever. Or why our board members were going to employees directly to discuss removing me from Project Veritas – on the same week of our biggest story of all time.”
He continued, “I’m confident those reasons and motivations will come to light. To borrow an old expression, the public has a right to know the motivation for seeking out these grievances about me, and why there was a concerted effort to remove myself from Project Veritas in the same week of the biggest story we had ever broke.”
“So I amend the statement from before, that Veritas can only be defeated from the inside. No — the only way to defeat us is if they take our spirit. And from the looks of things, many of us remain undefeated and unbroken. So our mission continues on — I’m not done. The mission will perhaps take on a new name, and it may no longer be called Project Veritas. I’ll need a bunch of people around me and I will make sure sure you know how to find me.”
OAN reporter and Project Veritas alum Neil McCabe tweeted the news on Monday morning, claiming that the company’s founder had “resigned.”
“[OKeefe], my friend and former boss at Project Veritas, just read his resignation letter to his former team and board members at their Mamaroneck, N.Y. headquarters,” McCabe wrote. “James will make his own way—as he always has before.”
Exclusive: @JamesOKeefeIII, my friend and former boss at @Project_Veritas, just read his resignation letter to his former team and board members at their Mamaroneck, N.Y. headquarters. James will make his own way—as he always has before. @OANN pic.twitter.com/knOqtFTw7e
— ReporterMcCabe (@NeilWMcCabe2) February 20, 2023
However, Project Veritas’ RC Maxwell soon replied that this was inaccurate — and that the board removed O’Keefe.
“This is not accurate. James was removed from his position as CEO by the Project Veritas board. They are in charge now,” Maxwell wrote.
This is not accurate.
James was removed from his position as CEO by the Project Veritas board.
They are in charge now https://t.co/cJ1oNUkBPd
— R.C. Maxwell 🇺🇸 (@BlackHannity) February 20, 2023
As Timcast News previously reported, a group of 16 Project Veritas employees asked the non-profit’s board of directors earlier this month, asking them to remove O’Keefe in a letter exposing internal tensions within the organization.
“The undersigned is troubled and frustrated with James’ management style and business acumen,” the letter began. “These behaviors and actions are antithetical to our core values, and it came to a head this week. Most recently, the treatment of Barry Hinckley and Tom O’Hara.”
Board members and C Suite officers involved in this according to my source are as follows:
Matt Tyrmand – Ringleader
Joseph Barton (not the congressman)
CFO: Tom O’Hara
COO: Barry Hinckley (Ringleader pronouns in bio) pic.twitter.com/IRI5kS1O43
— Swig 🇺🇸 (@OldRowSwig) February 9, 2023
The group accused O’Keefe of becoming a “power-drunk tyrant” and said that “he is exactly who he pontificates on who we should be exposing.”
Project Veritas’ Official Response to Today’s News Reports
Despite what the Corporate Media tries to portray about our organization, know this: We have never been more motivated and dedicated to our mission than now. pic.twitter.com/sB7Cz97b5M
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) February 9, 2023
O’Keefe was subsequently placed on leave, and many close to the company’s founder described it as a coup.