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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Project Veritas is suing its former CEO for breaking his contract, among other things, and bringing harm to the whistleblower organization.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court accuses James O'Keefe of violating terms of his employment agreement by forming a new whistleblower organization, O'Keefe Media Group (OMG), as a competitor to Project Veritas.
He did so before he was formally terminated from Project Veritas in mid-May, thus engaging in "prohibited outside activities."
The group is also accusing O'Keefe of "taking donor lists and contact information, equipment, as well as unreleased investigation publications by Project Veritas, rebranded as OMG material."
Citing numerous interviews given by O'Keefe in early 2023, when he appeared on Steve Bannon's War Room, the Megyn Kelly Show, the Ben Shapiro Show and others, "O'Keefe engaged in a campaign to disparage Project Veritas to its donors and solicit them to donate to OMG."
The complaint also claims O'Keefe, in violation of his contract, solicited Project Veritas employees "to attempt to poach them to come work for him at OMG."
O'Keefe founded Project Veritas in 2010, a whistleblower organization that went on to score numerous victories in exposing corruption in media, the pharmaceutical industry and politicians, in particular Democrats.
He was suspended in February this year after allegations that he had created a "toxic work environment," which reportedly included screaming at staff or routinely showing up late to big donor meetings.
He is also accused of using donor money for illicit expenses, including paying for a helicopter for transportation, flying first class or staying in luxurious hotels while other staff had to stay in budget accommodations.
O'Keefe hit back at the allegations in a 44-minute video aired on Feb. 20, where he gave his final speech at Project Veritas headquarters before cleaning out his desk.
Watch the full length video of James O'Keefe's speech to the journalists at Project Veritas. He was removed by the board of directors in a coup. The video is incredibly heartfelt and honest and exposes the dishonesty of the organization's new heads. pic.twitter.com/2tDkPP3j3S— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) February 20, 2023
O'Keefe went through the allegations set forth in a Project Veritas memo accusing O'Keefe of financial improprieties, explaining how key information was omitted from the accusations or how some information was mischaracterized.
O'Keefe noted that he had apologized to the board of directors and that he had drafted an apology to staff, which was rejected by the board.
"I imagine many of you didn't even know that I drafted an apology," O'Keefe said. "Then I was subjected to a 6.5-hour listing of grievances, which included taking 'black cars' to meetings. I don't know the significance of the color of the vehicle."
He went on to refer to "bizarre grievances," which included "my failure to record audio at a bar in upstate New York, and an allegation that I stole a pregnant woman's sandwich in federal court" — an allegation O'Keefe denies.
Project Veritas took a beating on social media over the highly publicized ouster of O'Keefe, with thousands of individuals siding with O'Keefe and dropping their subscriptions to his former organization.
"Project Veritas is facing many challenges that are familiar to growing organizations," the group said in response to Church Militant's query. "We are making major changes internally due to the nature of our past interpersonal and managerial issues."
"We are more committed than ever to producing great journalism that exposes the stubborn false narratives plaguing our society," it continued.
Project Veritas is being represented by attorney Marc Randazza, who successfully defended Church Militant in its lawsuit against the city of Baltimore, Maryland over First Amendment violations.
Church Militant contacted O'Keefe and OMG for comment but received no immediate response.