Founder James O’Keefe Claims Project Veritas Ouster Linked to Pfizer Sting in Farewell to Staff

James O’Keefe, the guerilla filmmaker known for exposing left-wing politicians and institutions, is out at Project Veritas, the conservative media company he founded more than a decade ago.

In a 45-minute video, which appears to have been filmed Monday at Project Veritas’s office, O’Keefe announced that he was “packing up my personal belongings” after he had been indefinitely suspended from his role as CEO and removed from the group’s board of directors.

O’Keefe, who appeared to be talking to gathered Project Veritas staffers, said the video, which was published anonymously on the streaming platform Vimeo, was “just for us,” and was being recorded “for internal distribution,” though he seemed to want the footage released widely.

“None of this makes any sense, and why is this happening right now?” O’Keefe said. “Those are the questions I have. I don’t have answers.”

While he may be out at Project Veritas, O’Keefe said he intends to continue with his work, and suggested he may start a rival watchdog organization and poach talent from Veritas.

“So, our mission continues on. I’m not done” he said. “The mission will perhaps take on a new name, and it may no longer be called Veritas, Project Veritas. I will need a bunch of people around me, and I’ll make sure you know how to find me.”

The announcement of O’Keefe’s ouster comes after weeks of internal discord at Project Veritas and apparent conflicts between O’Keefe and other leaders of the conservative watchdog group. O’Keefe was suspended by his board earlier this month after he attempted to fire the group’s chief strategy and financial officers over alleged conflicts over fundraising.

In the video Monday, O’Keefe also noted that his ouster came on the heels of the release of an undercover video that allegedly showed a Pfizer research director expressing concerns about Covid-19 vaccines and acknowledging that his company planned to mutate the coronavirus through “directed evolution.” On Monday, O’Keefe called the Pfizer sting the “biggest story in our organization’s history,” but stopped short of stating directly that it was connected to his downfall. There has been speculation on social media that O’Keefe was ousted from Project Veritas to protect the organization from legal fallout from the videos.

“That is the only thing that has changed,” O’Keefe said of the release of the Pfizer sting. “And then, suddenly, an unusual emergency happened just a few days after that.”

O’Keefe has also faced scrutiny from some of his workers. On February 6, an 11-page letter signed by 16 Project Veritas employees – and including opinions and anecdotes allegedly from a third of the nonprofit’s staffers – was sent to the board taking aim at O’Keefe’s “management style and business acumen.” In the letter, O’Keefe was described as a “power drunk tyrant” and a “diva,” who abused, bullied, demeaned, and over-worked his employees, and who caused concerns among donors. One employee even accused O’Keefe of once taking a pregnant woman’s sandwich in court.

“We have all been on the receiving end of unnecessary, seemingly intentionally humiliating, and outright cruel behavior,” an employee said, according to the letter, adding that “James knows he’s in over his head, he’s scared, he’s overworked, manic on stress and drunk on the success of the last few weeks.”

O’Keefe acknowledged the criticism in his video on Monday, saying he’s not the kind of leader who asks about his employees’ Thanksgiving holidays or knows their family members’ names. He said he’s “a hard guy to work for sometimes.”

“I haven’t always been the most compassionate leader, and that is admittedly a fault of mine, something I need to work on,” he said, adding later, “I do love many of you. I never said it, those words, but I’ll say it now.”

But part of the reason for his hard-charging leadership style, he explained, is that he packs his schedule with work and fundraising efforts, and is “moving at the speed of light.” He noted that in 2020, the nonprofit raised over $20 million.

O’Keefe said he was in a “state of complete shock” earlier this month, when he first learned that the Project Veritas board was aiming for him. He said there were questions about his expenses, including taking too many trips to too many meetings, including utilizing charter planes. He said the allegations against him were unfounded. “I don’t know how I can do my job here if I can’t transport myself around the United States,” he said.

He also accused board members of lying about him, fabricating stories about him, and not abiding by their duties to exercise loyalty and care for the organization. “What they shouldn’t do is try to destroy an organization,” he said. “That’s not what a board member does.”

In the video, O’Keefe talked about creating Project Veritas from humble beginnings, when he used “bubble gum and duct tape” to create his early videos. And he talked about the struggles and pressures he’s faced along the way – being handcuffed by FBI agents, having his phone confiscated and his private information leaked to the New York Times, being placed on house arrest, and being pursued in a high-speed chase by a education union leader.

He said he had gratitude for most of Project Veritas’ staff and appreciation for “many of you.”

“Over the last few weeks I have felt a lot of despair, and seen a lot of evil,” O’Keefe said. “You could say I’ve seen glimpses of heaven and hell, darkness and light.”

When reached by National Review on Monday, O’Keefe declined to provide any additional comment about his ouster from Project Veritas. He said his comments to his former staff were heart-felt.

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