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Why Conservative Activist James O’Keefe Can’t Raise Money In Utah

Utah Division of Consumer Protection

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.

Utah Charity Permit Denial to Project Veritas by KUER News

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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