News /

James O'Keefe Accused of 'Erratic Behavior' by 16 Project Veritas Employees

'James has become a power drunk tyrant,' said one unnamed employee in a letter submitted to the organization's board

A group of 16 Project Veritas employees asked the non-profit’s board of directors to remove founder James O’Keefe in a letter exposing internal tensions within the organization.

The group claims O’Keefe’s management style and business operations are “antithetical” to the organization’s core values. 

Timcast obtained a copy of the letter sent to the Project Veritas Board of Directors, Project Veritas Action and the organization’s executive management. The 11-page document included anonymous reports from witnesses and second-hand accounts of a “pattern of behavior” that “severely limit[s]” the staff’s “ability to execute the PV mission.”

Memo to PV Board Feb 6 2023 (1) by Christopher Karr on Scribd

In a preface to the letter, the signatories note about one-third of Project Veritas were involved in the effort to oust O’Keefe and even fewer had signed the letter. 

“Some signatories have not been the subject of abuse nor witnessed any abuse but found the corroborated behavior troubling and were willing to sign,” the preface added. 

The group’s letter was ostensibly instigated after O’Keefe allegedly publicly berated Chief Strategy Officer Barry Hinckley and Chief Financial Officer Tom O’Hara on Jan. 31. Hinckley and O’Hara were terminated on Jan. 2.

In a text included in the letter, Hinckley told staff members he “stood up to a bully and was fired.”

“James has become a power drunk tyrant and he is exactly who he pontificates on who we should be exposing,” according to one of the group’s 20 collected statements. None of the statements are attributed to specific, named people. The authors noted their evidence was compiled in the two days before the letter was submitted.

“We have all been on the receiving end of unnecessary, seemingly intentionally humiliating, and outright cruel behavior,” said another. “I believe James knows he’s in over his head, he’s scared, overworked, manic on stress and drunk on the success of the last two weeks. His flaws aside, his aims are genuine and he is a true leader. He just needs a push back in the right direction. I hope this potential board action is that push.”

O’Keefe has been accused of calling an employee who is no longer with Project Veritas a “pussy” and labeling another “traitorous.” Some of the statements accuse O’Keefe of “diva” behavior and egomania. 

“At Democracy Partners trial, in public, I was yelled at in front of jurors because he was hungry and then he took the 8-month pregnant woman’s sandwich,” one anonymous employee said.

“Everyone is operating in fear because James is erratic,” said another. “One doesn’t know whether one will meet his needs and expectations, since the target is constantly moving, and priorities are shifting.”

News that O’Keefe had been placed on paid leave by the board broke on Feb. 8.

“Like all newsrooms at this stage, the Project Veritas Board of Directors and Management are constantly evaluating what the best path forward is for the organization,” executive director Daniel Strack said in a statement, per New York Magazine. “There are 65+ employees at Project Veritas dedicated to continuing the mission to expose corruption, dishonesty, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions.”

Strack sent an internal message saying its Chief Executive Officer and Chairman was taking “a few weeks of well-deserved PTO.”

The letter’s signatories have demanded that the board stop O’Keefe’s “bullying,” “micromanaging,” and “undermining.” They have also asked that “controls are implemented to execute on the above without fear of personal reprisal.”

“We are writing this because we value the organization that James has built and what we’ve become. No one else is doing the work of PV, and we love it,” the signatories wrote. “If we DON’T make these changes, we will fail to attract and retain the best people. … Continue down the path we are on, and you will have an Army of ‘yes men’ who wouldn’t dare pen this letter.”

Members of five departments signed the letter including Michael Villani, Eric Spracklen, Bethany Ronaldo, Gillian Pietrowski, Jonathan Bailey, Joanne Sumner, and journalists Bobby Harr (Lithium), Arden Young, and Preston Scagnelli.

Project Veritas will reportedly decide at a meeting on Feb. 10 if it will permanently remove its founder.

In response to O’Keefe’s removal, a number of pundits and media figures, including Candace Owens, Paul Joseph Watson, and Jack Posobiec, have voiced their support for the non-profit’s founder.

O’Keefe founded Project Veritas in June of 2010. The organization has published investigations and undercover reports on social media platforms, presidential campaigns, and news networks.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article was labeled as an exclusive report. That designation as been removed.  

*For corrections please email [email protected]*