Before February, when someone mentioned Project Veritas, the first thing popping into your mind would be James O’Keefe. O’Keefe founded the conservative media company known for its clandestine video stings. As Veritas grew, he became a media star and remained the face of the company—well, until February. The organization’s board put O’Keefe on paid leave, removing him from any decisions for Veritas. The board claimed a breach of fiduciary duty and lost the investors who funded the company (Project Veritas is a 501(c)3 organization). O’Keefe responded by leaving the company. Now, just seven months after pushing out the face of the company, Project Veritas ceased operations.
Okeefe became a star when, along with Hannah Giles, he took down ACORN, a powerful and corrupt liberal organization:
Investigative journalism was changed forever when James O’Keefe walked into an ACORN office in 2009 posing as a pimp, Hannah Giles posing as a prostitute, and exposed workers there actively assisting the duo to set up sex trafficking operations. The workers exposed on video were fired, ACORN lost its government contracts, and the whole operation shut down within a year.
After O’Keefe was pushed out, he formed a new company directly competitive with the old “O’Keefe Media Group,” yes folks, OMG. Some of the Veritas investors and some of his key Veritas personnel moved to the new company.
Exclusive: @JamesOKeefeIII, my friend and former boss at @Project_Veritas, just read his resignation letter to his former team and board members at their Mamaroneck, N.Y. headquarters. James will make his own way—as he always has before. @OANN pic.twitter.com/knOqtFTw7e
— ReporterMcCabe (@NeilWMcCabe2) February 20, 2023
The new Veritas responded:
Project Veritas’ Official Response to Today’s News Reports
Despite what the Corporate Media tries to portray about our organization, know this: We have never been more motivated and dedicated to our mission than now. pic.twitter.com/sB7Cz97b5M
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) February 9, 2023
In August 2023, Hanna Giles replaced O’Keefe, her partner, in toppling ACORN. Some disgruntled employees claimed that Giles spent her first three days at Veritas trashing O’Keefe. That is a nice reward for someone who called Giles a “national treasure” in his book Breakthrough.
Giles began firing personnel who were seen as loyal to the company’s previous CEO.
“She came to all hands in April with her fat sidekick Ben Wetmore and all they did for 3 days was talk shit about James and relitigate all the terrible things he did to her/them 10-12 years ago. I knew right then her entire agenda was revenge,” a source said.
Five months later, in August 2023, there was a mass firing of Veritas employees.
I'm told almost all of Project Veritas was just laid off and this is legit
"All of production, all of field ops, all of comms, all of legal. Only remaining are office admin, HR person, a couple development people & IT" pic.twitter.com/X65CQBgK7A
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 17, 2023
The company that used to employ 65 people was down to 18.
Yesterday, on Sept 20, 18 went down to zero.
According to a letter titled “Reduction in Force” that was sent to Project Veritas staffers by HR director Jennifer Kiyak on Wednesday, the organization is putting all operations on pause amidst severe financial woes.
“In the interest of preserving the possible future existence of Project Veritas we need to put operations on pause and, as communicated since the Spring, another Reduction in Force (“RIF”) is necessary,” Kiyak wrote.
It was no surprise to CEO Giles when she told the board president, Joe Barton, in August.
“It’s devastating,” Giles said. “I’ve got to get back into the bank accounts to see what’s real and what’s not real because I have been getting presented with things that were not making sense and then when I’m presented with okay there’s only a thousand dollars left in the 501(c) (3) and I thought we had until October. We did a half a million dollar transfer and that was this period. But, like, we’re bankrupt.”
Truth be told, in my 35+ years in the media business, I have never seen a company “pause” its operations,..” unpause.” For all intents and purposes, Project Veritas is as dead as General Francisco Franco.
BREAKING: Project Veritas suspends all operations effective immediately.
CEO @HannahMGiles and Jen Kiyak of Human Resources cite financial ruin as reason for additional layoffs on 9/20/23 leaving merely a handful of employees left.
All investigations halted as of today.
— Bobby Harr (@BobbyHReports) September 20, 2023
How did the company go bankrupt?
O’Keefe’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told Mediaite that when O’Keefe was “forced out of Project Veritas in February of this year, they had between $6-8 million in their bank accounts. James had access to none of it. Six months later it’s apparently all gone. Instead of nameless sources blaming James for spending that money and bankrupting Project Veritas, perhaps their CEO and board of directors can let us all know how they blew through it all.”
The lesson here is you don’t “fire” the face of a company that seems to be well-liked by the employees.
Right now, there is no way to determine who is correct, the O’Keefe side or the people who side with the board when forced him out. In a way, it doesn’t matter. Project Veritas established a new kind of “citizen journalism.” Since the initial ACORN videos exposed many examples of hypocrisy and corruption, It will be sadly missed.