In his March 22 write up of James O’Keefe speaking in Stamford, Connecticut to a local Republican group, Marchant wrote: “Many see O’Keefe in a different light. In 2013, he settled a California case accusing him of making a deceptively edited video that falsely depicted a man working for a social-welfare agency as appearing to agree to take part in a human-trafficking scheme. He made payment of $100,000 to settle that case, while not acknowledging any liability or wrong.”
O’Keefe said he settled a lawsuit filed by Juan Carlos Vera tied to his 2009 investigation with Hannah Giles into the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, or ACORN. “It wasn’t about deceptively editing as the Stamford Advocate wrote—It was about invasion of privacy.
In his office at the ACORN’s National City, California facility, Vera was recorded telling O’Keefe, portraying a pimp, and Giles, portraying a prostitute, offering advice as to how best to smuggle underage female prostitutes from Mexico into San Diego.
“It's better if it's in Tijuana,” Vera said to O’Keefe and Giles. "Because I have a lot of contacts in Tijuana."
A week after their meeting, Vera followed up with O’Keefe and invited him to an ACORN housing seminar—adding that ACORN had jurisdiction over 500 houses in the San Diego-area.
He also advised O’Keefe not to their arrangements with other people. “Trust me, he said. “Trust the Mexican people.”
Vera sued O’Keefe personally, making the civil claim that O’Keefe violated his privacy rights under California’s Invasion of Privacy law. O’Keefe, who was then in the middle of investigating voter fraud in the upcoming 2012 elections, agreed to pay $100,000 to Vera without admitting guilt and with a statement in the settlement agreement that O’Keefe was only settling the suit to bring the matter to a close and avoid further expense.
Giles made an independent settlement with Vera and paid him $50,000.
ACORN fired Vera for after the video was released.
Merchant falsely wrote Vera accused James of deceptively editing. The lawsuit did not allege this. They corrected that.
O’Keefe said reporters will not stop talking about this lawsuit and they will not stop lying about it.
“You can imagine the distinction between an immoral thing, like misrepresenting someone, and merely recording someone—a distinction lost upon The Stamford Advocate. Project Veritas does not settle lawsuits and he considers the settlement with Vera to be one of the biggest mistakes of his life,” he said. “Project Veritas has won seven straight lawsuits, including defamation lawsuits in extraordinary fashion, he said.
In an April 8 letter to Project Veritas, Nathaniel Boyer, an attorney for Hearst, the parent of company of The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time, which also ran the story, wrote: “We decline to issue any correction.”
Boyer also wrote that the request for a correction itself was “an obvious attempt to stifle the exercise of First Amendment-protected expression on a matter of public interest.”
Upon a follow-up from Project Veritas, The Stamford Advocate posted this correction online, calling it instead a “clarification”:
In a March 22, 2020 Stamford Advocate/Greenwich Time article concerning Project Veritas and James O’Keefe titled “Stamford Republicans tap Project Veritas’ controversial James O’Keefe for dinner,” the Advocate and Greenwich Time reported that, in 2013, O’Keefe “settled a California case accusing him of making a deceptively edited video that falsely depicted a man working for a social-welfare agency as appearing to agree to take part in a human-trafficking scheme.”
The lawsuit, which alleged a violation of California’s law against recording conversations without consent, stemmed from O’Keefe’s publication of a video that the California Attorney General described as “severely edited.” According to the Attorney General’s summary of its report, O’Keefe appeared in the edited video “dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp, but in his actual taped sessions with ACORN workers, he was dressed in a shirt and tie, presented himself as a law student, and said he planned to use the prostitution proceeds to run for Congress.” The man who was the subject of the misleadingly edited video sued O’Keefe for violating California’s prohibition against surreptitious video recordings. His complaint mentioned that the video had been edited but did not state specifically that it had been deceptively edited. In agreeing to settle the case for $100,000, O’Keefe represented that he “regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family,” according to court documents.
O’Keefe said Marchant, who has a master’s degree in history from Columbia University, earned his place on the Project Veritas Wall of Shame.
“It’s where the journalists have to print retractions in articles questioning our journalism ethics—hence the irony,” he said. “That’s why we make a big deal out of it—that’s why we call it: Wall of Shame.”
About Project Veritas
Project Veritas is a non-profit investigative news organization conducting undercover reporting. Project Veritas investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions to achieve a more ethical and transparent society. Project Veritas is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.