James O’Keefe, the founder and chairman of Project Veritas, has taken a paid leave from the conservative nonprofit media organization as its board considers whether to remove him from his leadership position, according to current and former employees of the organization.
An internal message sent to Project Veritas employees by the organization’s executive director, Daniel Strack, said that O’Keefe would be taking “a few weeks of well-deserved PTO.” An image of the message was shared by a source familiar with the organization’s internal operations, and its authenticity was confirmed by a current employee. When reached for comment on his personal cell phone, O’Keefe said nothing in response and did not respond to follow-up calls and text messages. Through a Project Veritas spokesman, Strack later released a statement on behalf of the organization. “Like all newsrooms at this stage, the Project Veritas Board of Directors and Management are constantly evaluating what the best path forward is for the organization,” the statement read in part. It did not directly address questions about O’Keefe’s employment status. “There are 65+ employees at Project Veritas dedicated to continuing the mission to expose corruption, dishonesty, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions,” the statement read. “To our supporters: We hear you, we care about you, and we will never give up.”
O’Keefe is his organization’s guiding ideological force and onscreen face, but his status as its day-to-day manager has become uncertain amid reports of internal turmoil, lawsuits from former employees, leaks about its internal workings, and a federal investigation into its conduct in purchasing a diary stolen from Ashley Biden, the president’s daughter. Strack’s internal message to employees made reference to what he called “a distracting time” and said that a board meeting had been held to discuss “the health of the organization” and that while “we have not come up with final solutions yet we have made a few immediate decisions.” The message said two top Project Veritas executives, including the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, had been “reinstated.” Multiple sources said that the pair had recently been fired by O’Keefe.