Updated Sep 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jury awards Democratic firm $120,000 in Project Veritas lawsuit

James O’Keefe, President of Project Veritas, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek on February 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
James O’Keefe, president of Project Veritas, during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in February. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A jury found Project Veritas liable in a federal civil case for fraudulently misrepresenting itself and violating wiretapping laws after the conservative group targeted a Democratic political consulting firm in an undercover operation, per the New York Times.

The big picture: Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe said on the group's YouTube channel Thursday night they'll appeal the verdict after the jury awarded the consulting firm, Democracy Partners, $120,000 in the case.

Details: Lawyers for Democracy Partners told the jury in Washington earlier this month their clients "were the victims of political spying conducted by Project Veritas" during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Politico.

  • Project Veritas insisted it was news gathering and that its operatives work as journalists during stings.
  • But the jury of five women and four men found former operative Allison Maass "breached a fiduciary duty" in the operation that "amounted to fraudulent misrepresentation" after she gained an internship at Democracy Partners "using a false name and story," Politico reports.
  • Maass secretly recorded conversations and took papers that she gave to Project Veritas, which edited and published the videos as part of an operation that Democracy Partners said were was designed to embarrass Hillary Clinton and boost presidential rival Donald Trump's election chances, per the NYT.

What they're saying: "Hopefully, the decision today will help to discourage Mr. O'Keefe and others from conducting these kind of political spy operations and publishing selectively edited, misleading videos in the future," said Democracy Partners co-founder Robert Creamer in a statement.

The other side: "The jury effectively ruled investigative journalists owe a fiduciary duty to the subjects they are investigating and that investigative journalists may not deceive the subjects they are investigating," O'Keefe said in a statement on Project Veritas' website.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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