James O’Keefe Is Removed as Project Veritas’ Leader
James O’Keefe, the embattled leader of the conservative group Project Veritas, has been removed from his position amid a series of questions about his oversight of the organization, according to a speech he gave to the group.
“I was stripped of all decision-making last week,” Mr. O’Keefe said in a video of the speech, which was posted on Monday.
“Currently, I have no job at Project Veritas, I have no position here based upon what the board has done — so I’m announcing to you all that today, on Presidents’ Day, I’m packing up my personal belongings here,” Mr. O’Keefe said.
Earlier this month, Project Veritas’ board placed Mr. O’Keefe on paid leave after employees voiced complaints about his management style and his use of the group’s funds.
Since founding Project Veritas in his father’s garage in suburban New York in 2010, Mr. O’Keefe had been the face of the group. He rose to prominence during Donald J. Trump’s presidency, as Mr. Trump and his followers embraced Mr. O’Keefe, who relied on controversial tactics like hidden-camera videos that targeted liberal groups and the news media. Amid the praise from conservative figures, Project Veritas — which the I.R.S. recognized as a tax-exempt nonprofit — raised $20 million a year from donors.
But Project Veritas’ tactics have also brought legal scrutiny.
In September, a jury in a federal civil case found that the group had violated wiretapping laws in a sting operation against a consulting group affiliated with Democrats. The jury awarded $120,000 to that firm, Democracy Partners.
In addition, federal authorities have been investigating Project Veritas since 2020 as part of a broader case involving the theft of a diary kept by President Biden’s daughter Ashley.
In August, two men pleaded guilty to stealing the diary and selling it to Project Veritas before the 2020 election. In federal court filings, prosecutors said a Project Veritas employee had directed the men to steal additional items to authenticate the diary, and paid the men additional money after receiving them.
Neither Project Veritas nor any of its employees have been charged with wrongdoing in that case. The group has defended itself by saying that it is a journalistic organization, whose news gathering is protected by the First Amendment.