A botched sting of the Washington Post by conservative anti-media activist James O’Keefe has renewed scrutiny of his organization, Project Veritas, and its fundraising capabilities.
Project Veritas is known for its highly edited undercover videos targeting liberals and large media organizations. Their most recent attempt to plant a false story of sexual harassment in the Washington Post backfired after reporters uncovered the plot.
A Post investigation revealed that the group’s stunts have imperiled its nonprofit status in at least two states – Mississippi and Utah.
In 2013 and 2014, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection denied applications by Project Veritas to register as a charitable organization.
A copy of the actions were obtained by KUER through a public records request. It shows O’Keefe failed to disclose his prior misdemeanor conviction for breaking into a federal building in 2010. But that wasn’t the only omission. He also failed to disclose himself as an officer.
“O’Keefe testified that he has been an officer and President of Project Veritas since its inception in 2010. However, the initial application filed by Project Veritas on July 18, 2011 did not disclose O’Keefe’s misdemeanor conviction and did not even include O’Keefe on the list of officers, directors, trustees and executives of the organization.”
Consumer Protection officials said additional misrepresentations by O’Keefe did not assure the division that “the public interest will be adequately safeguarded” and that his conviction qualifies as a “crime of moral turpitude of sufficient concern” to deny the application.
“The applicant has demonstrated a lack of careful attention, scrutiny and candor with the division," the auditor wrote.
What that means is the nonprofit is barred from soliciting donations in the state, either in person or electronically.
Utahns can still donate to any nonprofit, even those without a permit. And according to its latest public filing, Project Veritas raked in $4.8 million in donations nationwide in 2016.
As a complaint driven agency, the only way for auditors to really know whether Project Veritas is abiding by the state's ruling is for Utah consumers to report it.