Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe Ousted Following Reports of Toxic Workplace Behavior

O’Keefe had been placed on paid leave while the company’s board deliberated his fate

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, who launched the conservative media company known for its “gotcha” videos and investigations over a decade ago, has been ousted as CEO and board member, following reports of toxic behavior toward employees.

“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 here,” he said.

O’Keefe made the announcement to staff on Monday from the org’s headquarters in New York. Perhaps in fitting fashion, O’Keefe blamed the recent viral success of organization’s video of a Pfizer executive from a few weeks before as the real reason for his ouster.

Project Veritas’ board placed O’Keefe on paid leave earlier this month after employees complained about his management style. In his Monday speech, O’Keefe acknowledged that while he was nobody’s nice guy, his behavior was consistent through the years.

“I don’t ask you how your Thanksgiving was. I don’t ask you the names of your siblings,” he said. “I haven’t always been the most compassionate leader, perhaps a fault of mine.”

O’Keefe founded Project Veritas in his father’s carriage house in suburban New York in 2010. His hidden-camera tactics targeting liberal groups and the news media drew praise from conservative circles – and an estimated $20 million in annual donor money.

O’Keefe aired a few old grievances and defended himself in the 45-minute video, calling some of the allegations “bizarre grievances” and suggesting he weathered “severe” attacks in the boardroom based on anonymous employee complaints. He also suggested a connection between the company’s recent Pfizer reporting – in which an executive who thinks he’s on a date says on-camera that Pfizer was looking into mutating the coronavirus to create future vaccines – and his ouster.

“Nothing about the way I’ve conducted myself over the past 13 years has fundamentally changed,” O’Keefe said. “So what has changed in the last three weeks? The only thing that has changed is that we broke the biggest story in this organization’s history.”