James O'Keefe confirms departure from Project Veritas in emotional video statement from headquarters
Founder of high-impact undercover journalism organization is departing after battling his own board for weeks.
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James O'Keefe, the undercover journalist and founder of Project Veritas, posted a video to the website Vimeo on Monday, announcing he would be leaving PV amid a dispute with the nonprofit's board of directors.
One America News (OAN) reporter and Veritas-linked journalist Neil McCabe tweeted out the announcement late Monday morning.
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," McCabe wrote. "James will make his own way—as he always has before."
Known for his various sting operations and undercover stories investigating lawmakers, government agencies, private corporations and celebrities, O'Keefe sought to hold true to the organization's motto: "Be Brave And Do Something."
The group's leader was placed on paid leave earlier this month seemingly related to a dispute over the removal of two board members. In O'Keefe's quest to remove them, the board reversed his decision and issued a memo with more general complaints about the working conditions and management attitude at PV.
Despite the board attempting to tamp down rumors of O'Keefe's imminent departure, he posted a video to the website Vimeo, detailing how he was stripped of his authority.
"Journalism is reporting things powerful people want kept hidden for the wrong reasons," he said during the 45-minute video. "Moral wrongs. Bad behaviors. As journalists we're the custodians of the public's conscience. And as we've gone deeper and deeper, exposing and illuminated corruption ... the line separating good and evil becomes more clear — not just in the institutions we investigate, but within one another. Throughout my 13 years doing this, our mission has evolved from simply being about exposing the truth with some hidden cameras to something more transcendental: giving people hope. That's what we do.
"... I have felt a lot of despair and seen a lot of evil and felt overcome with various emotions over the last few weeks. You could say I've seen glimpses of heaven and hell — of darkness and light. What I take away from these is the gratitude I have ... What makes us great is we do this work because we actually believe in this ... we don't sell out."
O'Keefe began to become emotional on camera and said he had his power taken from him and was, in effect, forced out. He then followed up with a story about his father and why he does what he does.
"I do love many of you," O'Keefe said. "I never said it, those words, but I'll say it now. I still believe we have a long and bright future together somehow, some way ... When I left the office on Feb. 6 after being stripped of all my authority, I saw my father and gave him a hug. Realizing just how honest and real the man he is. Both my parents are as genuine and down-to-earth as a son can ever have."
He then spoke about his experiences being raided by the FBI and how he felt persecuted by the government.
"There were federal agents showing up at my parent's house," he related. "There were no donors, no supporters, and I was not trending on Twitter. My father went through this hell with me and stood up to those bullies on the front lawn and told them to stop harassing my family. And at that point that's all I had, was him. I was otherwise completely alone. I will never forget that. Now the good news, we're no longer alone. We have millions of Americans who also know who I am.
"The mission will perhaps take on a new name, and it may be no longer called Veritas or Project Veritas. I'll need a bunch of people around me, and I'll make sure you know how to find me."
O'Keefe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"He just resigns and walks out the door to start a new life," said McCabe. "Now we’ll see: does the organization he created survive?"
You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC
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