Project Veritas sues its founder, James O’Keefe

Project Veritas is suing its founder, James O’Keefe, his new investigative journalism outfit, and two of the employees that followed him over after he left the company, claiming irreparable harm.

What’s the background?

O’Keefe founded Project Veritas in 2010.

TheBlaze previously reported that he had been placed on leave in early February, with the organization contemplating ousting him from his role of chairman.

Project Veritas’ board of directors provided confirmation of this turn of events in a Feb. 20 statement, noting that O’Keefe had been “suspended indefinitely pending the resolution of a fulsome investigation and clarity which will need to be provided by a third party investigative audit report.”

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O’Keefe subsequently indicated that he had been suspended earlier on Feb. 10 without compensation as the result of a 3-2 board vote. The board reportedly also stripped him of his authority and limited his access to proprietary information.

After 13 years with the company, O’Keefe ultimately said his farewells to the Project Veritas staff in a Presidents’ Day address, in which he drew a parallel to the termination of Steve Jobs from Apple, a company the late tech magnate had similarly founded.

O’Keefe recalled a statement from a former board member, who said, “Project Veritas will never be stopped from the outside. It will only be because we stopped ourselves” and amended it to say that Project Veritas will only be defeated “if they take our spirit.”

That month, he founded the O’Keefe Media Group.

OMG states on its website it is “building an army of investigators and exposers along with the most elite journalists in the world.”

What does the lawsuit say?

The suit accuses O’Keefe of breach of contract for having allegedly violated the company’s employee agreement.

The complaint specifically alleges that, contrary to the terms of the agreement, O’Keefe:

  • failed to keep all confidential information in the “highest confidence”;
  • disparaged Project Veritas, in part, by insinuating the Pfizer was behind his suspension and dunking on his former company online;
  • engaged in outside activities that might interfere with or hinder his work for Project Veritas, namely the creation of OMG;
  • solicited donors and employees/contracts of Project Veritas; and
  • communicated with donors or prospective donors after his employment with the company.

Extra to complaining of losing face, talent, and donors to O’Keefe, Project Veritas indicated that its founder also made off with equipment.

The lawsuit further accuses O’Keefe of:

  • violating the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act, suggesting that his “misappropriation” of trade secrets, including donor lists and “unreleased investigation publication by Project Veritas,” was “willful and malicious”;
  • breach of fiduciary duty by allegedly poaching Project Veritas donors and “forming OMG while still a member of the board of directors”; and
  • breach of duty of loyalty.

The suit names R.C. Maxwell and Anthony Iatropoulos as defendants, similarly accusing them of breaking their employment agreements. Both Maxwell and Iatropoulos are said to have absconded with a Project Veritas laptops.

Project Veritas is demanding a jury trial on all claims and defenses, at least wherever possible.

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