Project Veritas Sues Founder James O'Keefe

Project Veritas Sues Founder James O'Keefe
James O'Keefe, founder Project Veritas, at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Oct. 12, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber

Project Veritas on May 31 sued its founder James O'Keefe following his ouster from the journalism group.

O'Keefe breached his contract by starting a rival group while still employed by Project Veritas, the organization said in the 37-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. court in New York.

O‘Keefe formed the O’Keefe Media Group (OMG) on Feb. 17 despite not having been terminated yet, the suit says. O'Keefe also falsely said on multiple occasions that he was fired despite still being employed, albeit suspended, by Project Veritas, according to the filing.

O'Keefe is also accused of violating his contract by contacting Project Veritas donors and soliciting Project Veritas workers to come work for him at his new organization.

One message allegedly sent to donors said in part, “Hey there, I know you’ve been a supporter of my work in the last year,” with a link to an OMG webpage asking for paid subscriptions.

At least two employees accepted O'Keefe’s offer. R.C. Maxwell and Anthony Iatropoulos, the pair, were also named as defendants in the suit. Maxwell and Iatropoulos violated their employment agreements by joining OMG and appearing to use Project Veritas property while doing so, Project Veritas alleges.

Project Veritas is asking the court to quickly issue an order in its favor.

“If this Court does not preliminarily enjoin O’Keefe and OMG from soliciting Project Veritas’s donors and employees, they may have solicited them all by the time Project Veritas wins a judgment prohibiting them from such solicitation,” the filing states.

O'Keefe and Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Iatropoulos could not be reached.

O'Keefe Leaves Project Veritas

After weeks of rumors about his status, O'Keefe went to the Project Veritas offices in New York and announced he was leaving the company after being suspended by the organization’s board and stripped of decisionmaking authority.
O'Keefe said he had requested board members to resign. When they did not, he chose to leave. Project Veritas maintained it was open to O'Keefe still being with the company while accusing him of mishandling money, allegations he denied. In the new suit, the group says the board “did not terminate O’Keefe’s employment, but rather intended to reinstate him with appropriate safeguards.”
O‘Keefe violated his employment agreement by forming OMG on Feb. 17, the suit alleges. O’Keefe announced OMG to the public on March 15.

Project Veritas claims O'Keefe was still with the company until May. He was not formally removed by the board until April 24 and not formally terminated by Project Veritas until May 15, according to the filing.

O'Keefe’s employment agreement states that both he and Project Veritas could end his employment “at any time, for any reason, or for no reason, with or without notice.”

Project Veritas also says that O'Keefe was not being truthful when he said during multiple media appearances that he was “thrown out,” “removed,” or “terminated” by Project Veritas. Those comments “—which Mr. O’Keefe knows to be false—are disparaging of Plaintiffs, were intended to discredit Project Veritas’ Board of Directors, and are all breaches of the Employment Agreement,” the suit states.

Contract Details

In the contract, O'Keefe agreed to not “directly or indirectly, make any disparaging statements or other negative remarks, written or oral, about Project Veritas.”

O'Keefe also agreed to not offer employment or employ Project Veritas workers for one year after leaving Project Veritas, as well as not contact Project Veritas donors across the same period of time, and to not use confidential Project Veritas information.

For each breach of the contract, $100,000 was “a reasonable measure” of damages, the agreement states, unless Project Veritas can prove the damages are higher.

O'Keefe breached the contract by soliciting Project Veritas employees and donors, the suit alleges.

During his appearance at the Project Veritas offices, O'Keefe said that he was “not done,” adding: “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.”

O'Keefe only had information on Project Veritas donors because the information was kept on a confidential organization list, according to the suit.

Project Veritas is asking for a preliminary injunction that would block O'Keefe and OMG from contacting Project Veritas workers, donors, and contractors; disparaging Project Veritas; using confidential information; and using Project Veritas.

The group also wants damages and a jury trial.

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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