"We hope that you might continue to give us a chance," the email says, pleading with donors. "We can't stress how separate the board's role is from daily operations here at PV. We are still grinding and pursuing stories of great public importance."
The email, sent by Bethany Rolando, who was one of the 16 signers of a letter sent to the Board of Directors reporting personal grievances against O'Keefe, offers the subject line "Update: We hold everyone accountable, especially ourselves."
"We understand and share your frustrations," the email reads. "We all love and respect James and hope he returns. This is difficult for everyone."
The email states that "an independent two-dimensional audit is being arranged" to determine if financial wrong-doing has taken place, and if O'Keefe had broken administrative procedure.
These issues include "Breaking the Bylaws of the organization by unilaterally dismissing the CFO and co-opting another board member's vote by saying that board member supported the dismissal," noting that this second Board member "did not."
One of the issues listed in the letter from those 16 staffers to the board was that O'Keefe had fired the CFO without board oversight. "Most recently," that letter of February 6 read, "the treatment of Barry Hinckley and Tom O’Hara. These 2 highly respected individuals did what they thought was right for the betterment of the organizaion and got berated in public on Tuesday and effectively terminated by Thursday."
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."
Also listed in the email to donors, as a matter for the "independent two-dimensional audit," is whether O'Keefe used "donations for private benefit." In a statement from the board on February 20, concerns over O'Keefe's spending were brought to the fore. Among these were staff morale and what the board claims were excessive expenditures.
"The board included this in its statement what it is aware of so far which clearly warrants this internal audit to ensure your hard-earned, and graciously donated, money is utilized appropriately." The email states that they "hope to know more details around this soon."
They also list concerns "with employment laws/workplaces safety regarding appropriate treatment of the employees was based, in part, on his interaction with senior staff in a Leadership call on January 31, 2023."
Apparently, after this single phone call, "Staff across multiple departments were ready to leave PV immediately if his conduct remained unaddressed."
The email offers that "over the last seven years," the company saw turnover of 140 employees, noting that they either quit or were fired, and that due to 20 of those employees having been in managerial roles, that lead "to potential succession plan issues" that threatened "the long-term viability of the company."
Which leads to O'Keefe. The email to major donors assures them that he was not removed, due to the fact that "he specifically said he did not resign, and the board did not fire him." Instead, they noted that he was placed on "temporary suspension until the audit was completed."
After 16 staffers sent a letter to the board detailing their concerns over O'Keefe's behavior, including an allegation that he once stole a sandwich from a pregnant woman, the board convened a meeting to determine O'Keefe's future with the company he founded.
O'Keefe responded to the board, and the staffers, in his own letter, demanding that the Board resign.
"I asked the board to resign for their conduct-- they did not. 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," O'Keefe said.
"The board placed him on a temporary suspension until the audit was completed," the email reads, "The board wanted him to delegate management of staff to the department heads so he can focus his true talent, efforts, and best use of his time on the journalism/stories and less on the day-to-day personnel management."
"He has been invited, but has chosen not to, engage in conversations with the board and management following steps taken so far wiht the goal of returning to Project Veritas."
"Instead," the email goes on, "he requested no change in authority and that most of the officers and all of the board of directors immediately resign."
Project Veritas then appeals to the donors, saying that staff and board efforts at Project Veritas "remain passionately dedicated to James' mission," and that they "cannot control online narratives, and unfortunately cannot chime in to individually defend ourselves in the public sphere at present, we can sure you," it goes on to say, "we remain steadfast and determined to expose corruption."
The email notes that the work of Veritas continues, even if it has not gotten nearly the traction it did under O'Keefe's leadership. The latest expose picks up on the work that immediately precipitated the internal strife between O'Keefe and the board.
Prior to O'Keefe's departure, Veritas' reporting would be shared far and wide over social media with the "Veritas Army," made up of donors and supporters who shared the work on social media. Much of this method of distribution came about because O'Keefe, and Project Veritas, were banned on Twitter.
After Elon Musk took over the platform in October, both O'Keefe and Veritas were restored. In recent days, as Veritas has sought to distance itself from the man who created it, "James O'Keefe is Project Veritas" began to trend on Twitter, and as Veritas hemorraghed Twitter followers, O'Keefe rapidly gained them, outstripping Veritas of its influence, and taking it for his own.
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