‘As hard as it was to spend the roughly $350,000 defending ourselves in this case, it was worth every penny…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Project Veritas, the undercover, conservative journalism operation headed by James O’Keefe, announced Wednesday that it won a defamation suit brought against it by the head of the Wichita Teacher’s Union.
Steve Wentz’s suit sought an injunction, claiming the organization had slandered him when it surreptitiously recorded comments he made that were verbally abusive to students.
“As hard as it was to spend the roughly $350,000 defending ourselves in this case, it was worth every penny,” said a statement from the group. “We could have settled this case out of court. But that is not what we do. We fight, we fight for the 1st Amendment and the truth.”
A Florida federal judge ruled that Wentz had failed to establish the statements made by Project Veritas were false.
“Wentz is unable to sufficiently identify a false statement published by defendants that plausibly supports his defamation claims,” ruled Judge G. Kendall Sharp, who noted that Wentz testified to making the statements and was clearly shown making them.
Other accusations from Wentz included the claim that the videos were misleadingly edited and that they violated his privacy by recording him.
Sharp ruled against both, saying that the footage of conversations that took place in a bar and a Panera restaurant were clearly stated and in public locations.
“[I]t is clear that Wentz did not privately communicate … with the reasonable expectations that his statements would not be intercepted,” said Sharp.
It is not the first time Project Veritas has faced down lawsuits or criticism.
O’Keefe previously settled a $100,000 suit brought by the group ACORN after a video depicting him dressed as a pimp portrayed a worker seeming to agree to help him smuggle girls across the southern border.
The video both put O’Keefe’s work on the map and brought down the radical leftist organization.
But according to Politico, the settlement revealed that the ACORN worker had, without O’Keefe’s knowledge, contracted police after their conversation.
Other lawsuits have been brought by the leftist group Democracy Partners, which sued for $1 million, as well as the American Federation of Teachers.
In addition to the financial penalty, some said they hope to use the legal discovery process to expose the inner workings of Project Veritas.
O’Keefe, however, has continued to challenge and defy their efforts, maintaining that Project Veritas is guilty of nothing but good reporting.
“Principles matter,” said the recent statement. “I can assure you right now: we will never surrender our principles. And we will never settle.”