Project Veritas on Feb. 23 said founder James O’Keefe could return as it asked supporters to “give us a chance” following O’Keefe’s ouster.
O’Keefe spoke to staff members at the organization’s headquarters in New York on Feb. 20, announcing he was leaving after being stripped of his position as CEO and chairman of the board of directors.
“I’m intending to start anew,” he said.
The board has said that it did not fire him and that it did not want him to resign.
In the statement, sent to supporters of the journalism organization, Project Veritas said it understands people are frustrated.
“We all love and respect James and hope he returns. This is difficult for everyone,” the nonprofit said in the unsigned email.
The board had said that it uncovered “financial malfeasance” and that O’Keefe “left us no choice but to suspend him in the last few weeks when he unilaterally fired the CFO, who can only be fired with Board approval.” The board also said, “we did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign.”
Project Veritas said that an internal audit looking at “using donations for private benefit” would hopefully provide more details soon, and said there were also concerns surrounding the treatment of employees. Some staffers “were ready to leave immediately” if O’Keefe’s conduct “remained unaddressed,” it said.
“James’ ‘removal’ was not a removal. He specifically said he did not resign, and the board did not fire him. The board placed him on a temporary suspension until the audit was completed. 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,” Project Veritas said.
“He has been invited, but has chosen not to, engage in conversations with the board and management following steps taken so far with the goal of returning to Project Veritas. Instead, he requested no change in authority and that most of the officers and all of the board of directors immediately resign.”
O’Keefe did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Previously, he’s pointed The Epoch Times to the remarks delivered in New York.
‘Cannot in Good Faith Return’
O’Keefe told staffers that he was suspended indefinitely and was not being paid. He noted that on Feb. 15, Executive Director Daniel Strack said that O’Keefe had not been removed and described O’Keefe as “the hardest working person I’ve ever met.” Strack didn’t mention the suspension. O’Keefe also said he was accused of misusing funds for his wedding, but that he’s never been married. The money was actually used for the nonprofit’s Christmas party, he said.
O’Keefe asked the board to resign given the uproar his suspension had caused. If the board resigned, “I will return to work on Monday that stay and work with the remaining team to go forward with our mission,” he wrote.
“Short of this action, I cannot in good faith return to the employment of an organization with leaders who are attacking me personally, making false and unsupported claims of improper management of resources about weddings and black cars, and improperly airing employment issues related to me and others at Project Veritas,” O’Keefe told the board.
“I was stripped of all my decision making., I was removed from CEO. I was asked to be gone until the 20th. It is now the 20th,” O’Keefe told the staffers. “I asked the board to resign for their conduct, and they did not. So 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.”
O’Keefe has said that he did not resign. In a written statement, he said, “If you’re wondering what’s next, stay tuned.” Posting on Twitter on Thursday, he revealed a new email, [email protected], as he celebrated his confronting a Pfizer employee who was captured on tape discussing mutating COVID-19.
‘Give Us a Chance’
Project Veritas said that 60-plus workers remain at Project Veritas, and they are “passionately dedicated to James’ mission.”
“While we cannot control online narratives, and unfortunately cannot chime in to individually defend ourselves in the public sphere at present, we can assure you we remain steadfast and determined to expose corruption,” the nonprofit said. It pointed to a new video that features previously released footage of Project Veritas employees trying to get comment from Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, with a new clip of a Project Veritas lawyer saying he sent a letter to Pfizer decrying how a security guard slapped one of the journalist’s hands away.
The missive to Pfizer was to bring attention to the guard’s “aggressive behavior,” Edward Greim, the lawyer, said.
“We hope that you might continue to give us a chance,” Project Veritas said. “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. In either case, thank you so much for your support in the past and we hope we might regain your trust if you’ll give us a chance.”