March 23, 2023

The rightwing provocateur James O’Keefe may face the music tomorrow. 

O’Keefe, who founded and is synonymous with the conservative media outfit Project Veritas, was put on a paid leave while its board of directors is set to meet on Friday to consider his employment status, New York Magazine first reported.

Project Veritas wouldn’t confirm any of the details of O’Keefe’s situation.

“James will be taking a few weeks of well-deserved PTO,” Project Veritas executive director Daniel Strack said in an internal memo to staff.

The prospect of O’Keefe being forced out is the latest development in what has been a rocky stretch for the outfit known for outrageous stunts, selectively edited videos, and in-your-face gonzo performances under the guise of journalism.

The organization laid off some of its staff before Christmas, it faces a federal criminal investigation into its role in the Ashley Biden stolen diary caper, and O’Keefe apparently fired two top executives last week. 

The board reportedly reinstated the fired executives before O’Keefe went on leave. 

But there’s more. 

Staffers at the organization sent the board a memo Monday documenting problematic behavior that O’Keefe allegedly carried out in the office. The company appears as raucous behind the scenes as their antics in the public. Aside from a lawsuit alleging that guests at the company’s boat party “defecated on the floor,” the employee memo claims that O’Keefe himself had become known for terrorizing his staff.

“I would describe Project Veritas’ current environment with this saying: ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves,’” one staffer wrote in the memo obtained by Daily Beast and described at length.

Others described O’Keefe as “outright cruel,” that he often carried out “public crucifixions” on employees who disappointed him.

While the staffers signed the memo with their names, none of the accounts are attributed to them as individuals. One employee claimed that, during a September 2022 trial, O’Keefe berated them in front of jurors for food.

“I was yelled at in front of jurors because he was hungry,” the staffer wrote, “and then he took the 8-month pregnant woman’s sandwich.”

The memo also alleges that O’Keefe once “spit in an employee’s face over a tweet,” and that the founder required employees to take a polygraph test during a “mole hunt” trying to assure no one leaked information to the press.

At one point, O’Keefe allegedly called longtime Project Veritas operative Spencer Meads a “pussy” after the FBI raided his home during its investigation of the theft of  Ashley Biden’s diary.

The memo also alleged that O’Keefe used company funds to promote his own ambitions as a former theater kid, including a “Project Veritas experience” involving the boss dancing in a bulletproof vest.”

“James has become a power drunk tyrant,” the memo said.

Strack later released a statement to New York Magazine 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.” 

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