O’Keefe announced the Project Veritas layoffs in a Nov. 28 internal email reviewed by The Daily Beast. Roughly six people will be laid off, according to a person familiar with the plan.
It’s not clear how many people work for Project Veritas, but its tax returns from 2019—the most recent available—list 45 employees. At that size, laying off six people would represent more than 10 percent of the nonprofit’s total staff. A spokesman for Project Veritas didn’t provide more recent employment figures.
“As a part of our annual review process, we assess the performance of our organization and manage headcount to focus on attracting, maintaining and hiring the best talent available,” the group said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “We're always looking to hire the best people to carry out the gold standard of investigative journalism.”
A spokesman for Project Veritas insisted the group is still hiring, asking The Daily Beast to include a link to its jobs page.
The layoffs come as Project Veritas faces federal scrutiny as part of an investigation into presidential daughter Ashley Biden’s diary. Last year, FBI agents raided O’Keefe’s apartment and other addresses linked to the group. In September, two people who stole the diary pleaded guilty to taking it and selling it to Project Veritas.
O’Keefe’s group eventually passed on publishing the diary, which was later released by a right-wing blog. Project Veritas insists they conducted their reporting lawfully.
The undercover group is facing other legal problems. In September, Project Veritas lost a legal case filed by one of its sting targets, a Democratic consulting group. A jury awarded $120,000 to the group.
Project Veritas is also dealing with legal issues related to former employees. Antonietta Zappier, a former administrative assistant at Project Veritas, is a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the group, including one that aspires to reach class-action status.
One of Zappier’s lawsuits offers a host of claims about a debauched internal culture at Project Veritas. Among other things, Zappier alleges that a Project Veritas employee nearly died from a drug overdose during a party at a company apartment, that a Project Veritas fundraiser impregnated a subordinate and paid for her abortion, and that a rowdy party hosted by O’Keefe included one attendee defecating on the floor.
Zappier also made personal allegations against O’Keefe, claiming that he made secret recordings and opened pornography on his computer. O’Keefe’s group has denied the allegations, claiming in return that Zappier was fired for “unprofessional and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.”
In another case, Project Veritas has asked for an injunction to stop another former employee turned porn performer from publishing videos criticizing the group and revealing details about its surveillance methods, which Project Veritas claims violates his employment agreement.