My Working Theory About What REALLY HAPPENED Between James O’Keefe and Project Veritas
It's not what you think
I’ve been a big fan of James O’Keefe and Project Veritas for a long time:
I’ve met James O’Keefe, I’ve interviewed him, we both follow each other on Twitter and I genuinely think he’s the best journalist in the country today:
So, when I initially heard about the Project Veritas board suspending James O’Keefe, I was not happy. In fact, since it was kind of like the Celtics suspending Larry Bird, I assumed that there must be some enormous scandal brewing. As it turned out, not so much.
Initially, the board claimed James O’Keefe was pushed out over a letter featuring a lot of mostly trivial complaints about him being rude or mean which rather famously included the allegation that he ate a pregnant woman’s sandwich (yes, really!):
Even taking these mostly trivial complaints at face value, they wouldn’t have been enough to merit suspending James O’Keefe, but look at this line from the beginning of the letter:
How do responsible people take something like that seriously? The impression you get from that is that a bunch of Generation Z crybabies cajoled each other into signing a letter because Project Veritas wasn’t enough of a “safe space.”
On top of that, one of the most serious allegations, which was that James O’Keefe blew off a donor who contributed $75,000 to Project Veritas and refused to take a picture with her, which caused her to break down in tears, turned out to be false. We know that because she came forward and expressly said so:
After all this happened, we had a dearth of information for a while because the board suspended James O’Keefe and asked him to go on paid leave for two weeks. While O’Keefe went off the grid for two weeks, the board removed him as CEO and indefinitely suspended him. At this point, the heat on Project Veritas from conservatives was ferocious and they responded in two ways.
The first was to falsely try to convince the public that everything was going fine. O’Keefe was just on a little vacation. Nothing to worry about!
According to O’Keefe’s public response video that he did after his suspension ended, this is also when they concocted claims that there were financial improprieties:
(Twitter videos do not allow you to share the video at particular times, so times are noted for when O’Keefe said things below.)
The allegations against O’Keefe on this front just don’t appear to be credible. Why? For one thing, O’Keefe noted that the board already approved the expenses and they’re audited. In other words, the expenses in question – which on their face, appear to just be business expenses – have already been looked at, double-checked, and signed off on by the same people who are now claiming they’re a problem. As to allegations that maybe these expenses aren’t what they appear to be and they’re secretly James O’Keefe spending money on himself, I’d just note that this says an enormous amount about how much you can trust what Project Veritas is saying.
It isn’t possible that Project Veritas gave James O’Keefe money for his wedding (30:00) because he’s NEVER BEEN MARRIED. O’Keefe said this was actually a payment for a Project Veritas Christmas Party.
After all this, O’Keefe basically went back to the board and said something akin to, “Either you guys go, or I do.” (33:43). They didn’t go, so O’Keefe did.
When you consider all of this, along with the rest of the information in O’Keefe’s video, it gives you a lot of insight into how this whole thing probably came about.
First of all, O’Keefe said he and the company’s CFO had irreconcilable differences over fundraising. The CFO told O’Keefe that he would resign if O’Keefe didn’t resign as CEO (16:02). O’Keefe had no intentions of doing that and when the CFO refused to resign, he fired him. There was a dispute about whether O’Keefe had the authority to do this and whether he had the support of anyone on the board to do it, but the long and short of it was that the board rehired the CFO over O’Keefe’s objections, which said a lot about their intentions.
From there, O’Keefe says the board solicited complaints against him (37:55) from the employees and even told one employee they’d make more money if O’Keefe was gone (20:37).
So, that gives us an indication that the board was looking for a way to get rid of James O’Keefe.
Why would they do that after they had just broken the biggest story in the history of Project Veritas? Some people suspect that Pfizer paid some of the board members off at Project Veritas. While it’s impossible to completely discount that possibility, it seems like a reach. The reason being is all it would take to cause that kind of thing to backfire would be one honest person on the board to make the whole effort publicly blow up. Additionally, the story was already public. If anything, this whole flap over O’Keefe is probably drawing MORE ATTENTION TO IT, not taking it off the map.
On top of that, a couple of comments O’Keefe made came from the board members suggest a different rationale behind their move. He said one of them essentially claimed that James had nothing to do with the Pfizer story (21:23). O’Keefe pointed out that the video of him confronting the Pfizer employee drew an enormous amount of attention:
He also noted that he had helped convince the operative who worked on the Pfizer investigation to do it in the first place, which the board member said he didn’t know.
Additionally, after what sounded like a contentious meeting between James and the board, another board member said, “Is there anything James O’Keefe is good at?”
So now, we start to get a picture of what’s happening. It’s a story that has been repeated time and time again throughout history.
James O’Keefe founded Project Veritas and made it into a success. Over time, in order to build a more effective organization, he brought on lots of people and trained them well. Eventually, they got good enough to actually pull off major operations without him looking over their shoulder. Then, the money started rolling in. Under James O’Keefe’s leadership, Project Veritas raised 22 million dollars in 2020 alone (11:04).
Suddenly, some people on the board probably started wondering why they needed James O’Keefe. Hadn’t he already taught the staff everything he knows? Didn’t he already create a nice, big donor list for them? Why should James O’Keefe be getting the lion’s share of the credit? Wouldn’t there be more for everyone if James O’Keefe wasn’t around? It probably didn’t help that by his own admission, James O’Keefe can be difficult. He’s a hard-charging, perfectionistic workaholic who pushes people around him and doesn’t always pay as much attention as he should to niceties. Do you think it’s a coincidence that you could also describe Steve Jobs and Elon Musk the same way and that Jobs was pushed out of Apple in 1985 while Musk was fired as CEO of Paypal in 2000?
So, what really happened?
There was probably a personality conflict between James O’Keefe and the board, they were insulated enough from reality to believe that they didn’t need him anymore and after the Pfizer story, they felt like they were riding so high that they could get away with firing him.
Since they made the terrible decision to get rid of O’Keefe, Project Veritas has gotten a reality check. Donors are unhappy:
Project Veritas has lost roughly 300,000 Twitter followers and has now been reduced to putting out unbelievably cringy videos talking about how much they love the guy they just pushed out of the company:
The unfortunate reality is that Project Veritas is on track to die, and it won’t be a pleasant death. Donations are going to dry up, donors are going to sue them to get their money back and the conservative press is going to savage them at every opportunity.
Realistically, there is only one way out of this whole mess, and this is it:
Will they do the right thing, or will a bunch of buzzards just stuff their pockets with what’s left of the money James O’Keefe brought in until Project Veritas is dead? Time will tell, but the handwriting is on the wall and the board should have seen it before they created this whole mess.
There is no Project Veritas without James O’Keefe.
I hope the board is removed and he returns. If that happens, I believe donations would skyrocket! I’ll give again.
Wonderful time line commentary by John Hawkins. We unsubscribed from everything Project Veritas and will look forward to following James O'Keefe to his next organization that he sets up. He should name it Project Phoenix.