Neil McCabe of OAN broke the story on Twitter, saying that O'Keefe delivered his resignation in person to his staff at their Mamaroneck, New York office.
Shortly after McCabe's announcement, Project Veritas' RC Maxwell stated that the report was not accurate and that O'Keefe was in fact removed as CEO by the Board
After the 16 staffers sent the letter to the Project Veritas board of directors in early February, "James O'Keefe IS Project Veritas" began to trend on Twitter. Many supporters and donors all balked at the idea that Veritas could continue without O'Keefe at the helm and prominent conservatives gave their support for O'Keefe.
"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."
In the letter, the 16 staffers, are listed as Michael Villani, Eric Spracklen, Mario Balaban, Jake Mantel, Patrick Van Duyne, Sal Gueli Journalists: Arden Young, Preston Scagnelli, Bobby Harr (Lithium), Bethany Rolando, Joanne Sumner, Gillian Pietrowski, Jonathan Bailey, Joshua Hughes, Nick Mehaj, and Angelo Martinez, say that "James has become a power-drunk tyrant and he is exactly who he pontificates on who we should be exposing."
Other statements also site professional relationships that apparently soured between O'Keefe and others, including an instance where O'Keefe called Spencer Meads a "pussy."
"James went as far as to call Spencer a pussy in Vegas, and Spencer heard him say it. Both of these guys were mission-driven and suffered through it. They were raided and James still called Spencer that name - he never forgave them for making a decision to leave for their own mental wellbeing," the letter reads.
Issues cited include that "airing grievances" has led to termination, which hs prevented the undersigned from previously speaking up. Lack of transparency in decision-making was a concern, as well we O'Keefe being difficult to work with, belligerent, and mean, with "bullying" listed as a concern.
Project Veritas hemorrhaged followers in the wake of the news, with staff and board attempting to continue without the man who made the company what it is.
Veritas said that they were confident in their ability to stay the course and continue to deliver on the mission O'Keefe set out for them, whether he was in charge the project or not. Now they are likely to find out.
Cease and Desist letter went out to the Project Veritas Board of Directors by law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders, saying that the "firm represents a large group of significant donors to Project Veritas."
These donors, it goes on to say "have grave concerns about the Board of Directors' reported the action to remove Founder and CEO James O'Keefe from his leadership position, change the structure of the Project Veritas entities and their Boards (raising risks for the entities' charitable status), and operate Project Veritas for purposes other than those for which the organization was established."
"The big wig donors to Project Veritas are not taking the board actions against James O’Keefe lying down," says a source, according to Swig. "Looks like they have hired a big-name law firm that sent a letter which seems to suggest the board is running afoul of Virginia law and exposing themselves to substantial liability!"
"By threatening or taking these actions," the letter went on to say, "the Board is straying from its roots and the express purpose for which it raised considerable funds from the public, including our clients."
"We are concerned that the Board may already be acting in violation of Virginia charitable solicitation and trust law and ask that the Board refrain from taking further actions to fundamentally undermine the purposes for which Project Veritas be established." They further asked that no money be spent in the meantime.
They said plainly that the Board must "cease and desist" from any actions to remove O'Keefe from the company, and state that the letter also represents "a request to preserve all tangible evidence, whether held by the Board or by its members, personally, including all documents related to the subject matter of this letter."
The rumor mill began to swirl after the release of the letter as factions began to form, with some saying that further, more damning allegations could be in the offing, primarily concerning financial dealings. Those have not yet come to pass.
Following a statement released by Project Veritas Executive Director Daniel Strack, Project Veritas retweeted a photo from Robert F Kennedy Jr showing himself with Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe in Santa Monica. "Of course [James O’Keefe] is alive and well. Why wouldn’t he be?" Project Veritas wrote. "We’re sure many of you can agree, there is nothing better than enjoying a well-deserved vacation."
The retweet came hours after a statement from Strack on behalf of five board members saying that O’Keefe has not been removed from Project Veritas.
"At Project Veritas, we believe in radical transparency coupled with respect, empathy, and honesty," the statement began. "A few weeks ago, a number of our staff members provided leadership with some verbal feedback describing real management concerns regarding the treatment of people and our internal processes."
Strack wrote that this feedback "prompted the board to solicit feedback from additional staff members," noting that an internal letter was leaked. "The narrative that is being portrayed by referencing this letter is patently false."
"James has not been removed from Project Veritas. Nowhere in that letter was there ever a suggestion to remove James from the organization," the statement continued.
Strack said that more than 16 employees provided feedback, and that "this letter was not the only feedback collected." 16 members signed a letter outlining complaints about O'Keefe's leadership. It was reported that O'Keefe was on paid leave.
"James is the hardest-working person I have ever met. Those who know him well know that he will not take time off unless forced to," Strack said.
"The Project Veritas Board of Directors is made up of seasoned and active members of their communities with many years serving on other 501c3 boards. They do not get paid by Project Veritas. They are multi-year donors. They all love James. They are volunteers hand-picked by James," the statement continued. "As a 501c3 non-profit entity, the Board takes their responsibilities seriously."
Strack stated that as Executive Director, "I am an officer of the organization. My role is to manage our team and help create better processes and procedures to help address the concerns of our team, our board and James O'Keefe."
"While I do understand the timing of this situation alongside the biggest story in our organization's history is confusing and very easy to come up with conspiracy theories, I assure you we are still, in no way, and will never be, 'Brought to you by Pfizer.' Nor do we have any political preferences for any candidates running for office," he added.
"I have always been, and remain, committed to working with James and the PV team, who I am so proud to be a part of, to continue our mission to expose corruption and deliver truth to the American people without fear or favor," Strack concluded.
The letter was issued by Strack on behalf of five board members: Steven Alembik, Joseph Barton, John Garvey, George Skakel, and Matthew Tyrmand.
From that investigation, O'Keefe founded Project Veritas, a journalistic enterprise that relies on donations to carry out their work exposing educators, media figures, elected officials, and most recently Pfizer executives giving away information that they never would have if they'd known they were speaking to undercover reporters.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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