Who is funding Project Veritas? All about James O'Keefe and why the far-right activist group is so controversial
New York-based 'right-wing' activist group Project Veritas has again come into the limelight over the issue of ballot harvesting after garnering support from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard tweeted in support of concerns raised by Project Veritas in her tweet on September 29. “Project Veritas offers further evidence of the need to ban ballot harvesting. It's not a partisan issue. It's been abused to help both R & D candidates, including in North Carolina & California. Please help by telling your congressional rep to pass our bipartisan bill HR8285.”
She shared her past video on ballot harvesting and defined it as a “system where third parties collect ballots for other, potentially large number of people”. In the video that she shared on Twitter, she said ballot harvesting can allow for fraud and abuse by those who could tamper or discard ballots to sway an election for or against a specific candidate. In another tweet, she wrote, “Congress needs to pass our bipartisan bill to ban ballot harvesting so no one can exploit our sacred right to vote.”
Project Veritas offers further evidence of the need to ban ballot harvesting. It's not a partisan issue. It's been abused to help both R & D candidates, including in North Carolina & California. Please help by telling your congressional rep to pass our bipartisan bill HR8285. https://t.co/AJequVVrzc— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) September 29, 2020
Congress needs to pass our bipartisan bill to ban ballot harvesting so no one can exploit our sacred right to vote. https://t.co/5Vh7rLsQDa— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) September 29, 2020
Earlier, we reported that Project Veritas had voiced the same issue where they uploaded a video on their YouTube channel claiming that it contained the results of an investigation into allegations against Democrat Rep Ilhan Omar in Minnesota of ballot harvesting. In that video, James O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of Project Veritas said: “Ballot harvesting is real, and it has become big business. Our investigation into this ballot-harvesting ring demonstrates clearly how these unscrupulous operators exploit the elderly and immigrant communities — and have turned the sacred ballot box into a commodities trading desk. We are showing Americans what is really going on in one of our great cities — but, it is not me saying — we have the operatives on tape saying it all themselves.”
With such repetitive media attention that Project Veritas has gained on the issue of ballot harvesting, it is worth pondering more about this group?
What is Project Veritas?
Project Veritas claims to be a non-profit journalism enterprise that is based on doing undercover reporting work. It was founded in 2011 by James O’Keefe who serves as its CEO and features in many of its blasting videos on key issues that concern Americans. As per the site of Veritas, the group probes and exposes a gamut of issues like corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions. They claim to strive for an ethical and transparent society holding institutions and high-ranking people accountable.
As per the official website of Project Veritas, the group has brought some positive impact through its undercover journalism. This includes, “ending federal funding of the corrupt Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), twice forcing the New Hampshire legislature to tighten voter ID laws, exposing political bias in the mainstream media outlets like CNN.”
However, despite claiming to bring positive change, the group has been defamed many times due to its reportedly “edited” and “misleading” videos. In 2019, one of its YouTube stings was deemed misleading as reported by The Verge who alleged that their video gave conservative lawmakers ammunition, even if the evidence was “all phony.” In 2016, the group posted a series of videos on 2016 US Presidential elections reportedly depicting rampant election fraud and misconduct on the part of Democrats. However, their videos were again blasted as they were “virtually impossible to fact check” as reported by the Snopes website.
Back in 2011, the group was caught in controversies yet again when it brought down NPR’s CEO over an NPR fundraiser meeting with fake Muslim “donors.” Its “sting” video was reported as “edited misleadingly” by Time Magazine at that time.
Who funds Project Veritas?
While it is not clearly stated what is the main source of income for Project Veritas and who funds it, several media reports have suggested that they have received anonymous donations. As reported by The New Yorker, the group has received funds from a “Donors Trust.” It elaborates in its report, “As per tax records obtained by PRWatch.org, an investigative watchdog group run by the Center for Media and Democracy, in recent years hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Project Veritas have come through a fund in Alexandria, Virginia, called Donors Trust that specializes in hiding the money trails of conservative philanthropists. In its promotional materials, Donors Trust says that it will 'keep your charitable giving private, especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues'.”
Many reports have also suggested that Project Veritas’ CEO James O’Keefe had been paid by President Donald Trump too. As per a New York Times report, days after Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, James O’Keefe visited Trump Tower and gave him a preview of his latest hidden camera video "intended to undermine Hillary Clinton." As per NYT, this footage was widely dismissed after it was released. However, the NYT mentions that Trump had been promoting O’Keefe’s work for years and a few weeks earlier, to the release of the video, had donated $10,000 from his foundation to O’Keefe’s group. The same has been reiterated by CNBC too.
What is the CNN controversy?
In the most recent update, CNN was taken aback and might be enforcing “law enforcement” after O’Keefe crashed a morning editorial call with CNN President Jeff Zucker and said the tapes from previously recorded phone calls will soon be released
In the video, O’Keefe unmutes himself on a phone telling Zucker, “We’ve been listening to your CNN calls for basically two months and recording everything. Just wanted to ask you some questions, if you have a minute. Do you still feel you are the most trusted name in news? Because I have to say from what I’ve been hearing on these phone calls, I don’t know about that. I mean, we’ve got a lot of recordings that indicate you’re not really that independent of a journalist.”
He was quick to respond, “Thank you for your comments. So everybody, in light of that, I think what we’ll do is we’ll set up a new system and we’ll be back with you, we’ll do the rest of the call a little bit later.” O'Keefe then said, “We’re going to release those recordings today at 7 o’clock. So stay tuned, it’s going to be fun.”
Legal experts say this may be a felony. We‘ve referred it to law enforcement.— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) December 1, 2020