Project Veritas v. James O’Keefe: Parties “engaged in productive discussions to attempt to resolve this case”
Project Veritas is going down, according to multiple media reports. Turns out suing James was a bad business decision. A recent court filing by Project Veritas suggests there have been settlement negotiations to end the lawsuit.
Project Veritas and James O’Keefe, its founder and most identifiable personality, had a massive falling out, with lots of ugliness as PV went on the offensive. We covered the unfolding car wreck:
- James O’Keefe Out at Project Veritas, Updated with Video (February 20, 2023)
- O’Keefe Video: “I don’t build to have donors, I have donors to build” (February 20, 2023)
- Project Veritas To Conduct “Two-Dimensional” Audit Of James O’Keefe Expenses Looking For Problems (February 23, 2023)
- VIDEO: “We, the Whistleblowers of Project Veritas stand with James O’Keefe” (February 24, 2023)
O’Keefe then formed his own activist entity, and Project Veritas sued him:
- ‘I’m Back’: James O’Keefe Launches New Media Company After Project Veritas Ouster (March 15, 2023)
- Project Veritas Seeks Injunction Against James O’Keefe and O’Keefe Media Group In Newly-Filed Lawsuit (May 31, 2023)
The lawsuit, regardless of any merits, was an act of business stupidity by PV, because James was the company as far as the public and donors were concerned:
This strikes me as a futile act of desperation. O’Keefe was Project Veritas in the minds of the public and donors. You can’t salvage the business by attacking him, or suing him.
A Project Veritas sockpuppet account doesn’t understand that PV has even further damaged its business by the lawsuit even if the lawsuit had merit. You aren’t going to win back donors and supporters by suing James. You “might” be able to stop James from soliciting donors, but you can’t make the donors donate to you. You will just drive them further away, and your business further into the ground. Someone gave PV some very bad business advice, unless the situation is so desperate and they are going down so fast they figured they had nothing to lose.
[No criminal charges were ever brought against ACORN, but federal funding was cut off, and it made James a national figure.]
As to the business wisdom of PV suing James, it’s *almost* like I could see into the future. No, actually, I accurately predicted the future of PV, which brought on Hannah Giles (who partnered with James on the original ACORN sting) to try to salvage the operation and bring back some of its glory.
Hannah Giles Announced as New CEO of Project Veritas
The mission continues! pic.twitter.com/hpyVCFqd7o
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) June 8, 2023
It didn’t work. In a bizarre and then deleted “hostage” like tweet from PV’s official account, the implosion was revealed:
Quite an update from conservative undercover group Project Veritas’s official account. Hannah Giles is PV’s CEO, hired after James O’Keefe was pushed out earlier this year and was the other half of O’Keefe’s ACORN pimp sting. pic.twitter.com/tlyv9oxP7i
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) August 17, 2023
According to numerous media reports, Project Veritas has laid off most of its staff and will outsource investigations, as donations withered in the absence of James:
After laying off most of its workforce last week, right-wing media group Project Veritas is considering cost-cutting measures like going fully remote and bringing in an outside firm to produce its content.
Project Veritas laid off 25 employees last week, citing financial difficulties. The company has struggled to fundraise after the departure of its founder James O’Keefe earlier this year. By the time of his departure, O’Keefe had become controversial within Project Veritas, with some employees accusing him of being “a power-drunk tyrant” who allegedly squandered company funds on lavish personal expenses. After the layoffs—which employees previously characterized as slashing Project Veritas from 43 to 18 staffers—the company is seeking a profitable path forward, according to sources. And it won’t be easy, management has suggested in a recent conversation.
In post-layoff conversations with staff, Project Veritas board president Joseph Barton has indicated that the company plans to work remotely and part ways with its Mamaroneck, New York, headquarters, people familiar with the talks told The Daily Beast.
Barton, who did not return requests for comment, also indicated that Veritas hopes to cut costs by outsourcing its production to a third-party firm.
Much of PV’s actions and the lawsuit seemed to be an attempt to get James in legal trouble, regardless of whether it salvaged the company. And sure enough, there are reports of an “investigation” by the Westchester County District Attorney into the accusations against James.
But none of that will salvage Project Veritas. The lawsuit never made sense at multiple levels. While demanding an injunction in the Complaint, the Pacer electronic docket does not reflect any motion for injunctive relief ever having been filed.
Additionally, the lawsuit may go away entirely, according to a Letter Motion filed by Project Veritas on August 23, 2023, seeking an extension of time to serve the Complaint on James and his new entity (emphasis added):
Plaintiffs and Defendants O’Keefe and Transparency 1, LLC, had been engaged in productive discussions to attempt to resolve this case. Were Plaintiffs to have served Defendants, unnecessary litigation costs would potentially have been imposed on both sides. Plaintiff believes an additional 45 days at this point would suffice to advance the goal of out-of-court resolution or to effect service and move forward. Thus, good cause exists to grant a 45-day extension of the deadline to serve the Complaint and Summons in this matter.
The Judge promptly approved the delay, but of course, Judges love having cases settle:
|08/23/2023||13||ORDER granting 12 Letter Motion for Extension of Time: Plaintiffs’ time to serve Defendants is extended to 10/13/23. (HEREBY ORDERED by Judge Cathy Seibel)(Text Only Order) (Seibel, Cathy) (Entered: 08/23/2023)|
How serious are the settlement negotions? No way to tell from the court docket. It may be that whatever progress was made will not be enough.
What would be enough for each side? That’s the key thing. James could try to reclaim control of PV, but he’s already started his own group, and the PV brand is tarnished, so why would he want it. As to James’ new venture, if PV thought it really was a serious threat causing irreparable harm, it wouldn’t have done nothing in the lawsuit to actually enforce its rights.
This should be a lesson to Kemberlee, Mary, and Fuzzy – don’t even think about ousting the founder and most identifiable figure at Legal Insurrection. The readers will stand by me. Right? Right?
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