James O’Keefe, the right-wing personality who made a name for himself by going undercover in an effort to dig up dirt on progressive organizations, has been using his former activist group’s funds for personal purchases, including luxury helicopter travel, DJ equipment, and liquor, an internal audit found.
O’Keefe, who founded the Project Veritas in 2011, is being accused of improper behavior in addition to inappropriately spending donor funds, according to a draft private internal audit of the group’s expenses conducted by an independent law firm and reviewed by The Washington Post.
O’Keefe’s expenditures using donor money allegedly include dropping $12,000 to take a helicopter from New York to Maine for a sailing trip. En route, the helicopter encountered bad weather and was forced to land in Portland, a three-hour drive from O’Keefe’s destination, so Project Veritas shelled out $1,400 for a private black car to drive him three hours to where the sailboat was docked.
The founder apparently used meetings with minor donors to justify Project Veritas paying for his luxury travel, including the sailing trip, even going so far as to ask employees to book meetings with donors near where his girlfriend, Alexandra Rose, lived. Three Project Veritas staffers told the Post that O’Keefe had them schedule meetings with small dollar donors in California so he could visit Rose, a real estate agent featured on Netflix reality show Selling the OC. O’Keefe also pressured employees to purchase “many expensive bottles of tequila” for Rose, Project Veritas executives told auditors.
When Project Veritas offices flooded during Hurricane Ida in 2021, the audit said, O’Keefe departed, leaving employees behind and telling them to “prioritize his evacuation,” according to the Post. O’Keefe wanted them to ensure he could get to Virginia where he was starring in a production of the musical Oklahoma! One elderly staffer ended up being swallowed by the floodwaters, staffers told auditors, before other employees came to his rescue.
The audit reportedly found that Project Veritas spent $208,980 on black car trips over just two years and paid $600 for bottled water during a single San Antonio hotel stay. The group also spent $2,500 on DJ equipment because O’Keefe hoped to play at the Coachella music festival. Two employees told the Post that O’Keefe became irritated when staffers informed him they were unsuccessful at booking him a Coachella set.
O’Keefe was booted from Project Veritas this past February after 16 employees accused him of workplace misconduct, including forcing staff to take lie detector tests. He first rose to prominence when he secretly recorded workers at ACORN, a community-based housing nonprofit, in 2009. O’Keefe refused to meet with the auditors probing his spending while he still with the organization.
“If you’re Bobby Axelrod from Billions, it’s fine to live like that,” Hannah Giles, the new Project Veritas CEO, told the Post. “When you’re paying your bills from a little old lady’s Social Security checks, we’re going to have problems.”
O’Keefe is now facing a lawsuit from Project Veritas for allegedly poaching donors from the organization. He is also reportedly under criminal investigation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, although the nature of the investigation is not known.