James O’Keefe Sued for “Wrongful Termination,” “Defamation”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 13 2014 2:32 PM

James O’Keefe Sued for “Wrongful Termination,” “Defamation”

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The conservative youngster has had a roller-coaster 2014.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

February started off quite well for James O'Keefe and Project Veritas. The New York Department of Labor had been requesting information from PV, the hidden-camera investigation outfit founded by the conservative undercover journalist. After Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some ill-advised comments about how conservative extremists were not welcome in the state, O'Keefe informed the media of the heat on his group. Not long after that, a court date and a demand to supply financial information were dropped. O'Keefe, who'd been successfully stinging Democratic organizers and Obamacare navigators in Texas, had won again.

Time for another migraine. On Jan. 27, Daniel Francisco, who was until earlier that month the executive director of Project Veritas, launched a lawsuit (case No. 51182/2014) against his former employer. In the summons, filed in the Supreme Court of New York, Francisco claimed to have been "wrongly terminated" by Project Veritas, that "Project Veritas has breached its contract" by "failing to compensate him for the final week of his employment," that it has "tortuously interfered with Plaintiff's contract," and that since then James O'Keefe had "defamed" Francisco.

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"Essentially, a dispute has arisen and we're pursuing our legal options due to the unethical behavior and actions of Project Veritas and Mr. O'Keefe," said Francisco's attorney, Kenneth J. Falcon. "There's not many specifics I want to go into this point. I don't know whether they have been served, but I'm sure we'll be hearing from them soon."

Francisco had joined Project Veritas in 2012, when it was releasing the results of undercover stings of polling stations that didn't require voter ID. (A sting in New Hampshire led directly to the state's then-Republican legislature passing a voter ID law.) As recently as November, he was talking up PV's upcoming scoops and stings.

Now he's speaking through an attorney who isn't actually saying much. O'Keefe, reached for comment, deferred to a spokeswoman; I'll update the post when I get a response. [UPDATE: "We can’t comment on Daniel Francisco’s situation at this time and Project Veritas nor James O’Keefe have been served."]

On Twitter, at least, O'Keefe hasn't said anything positive or negative about Francisco recently. He's still at work.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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