FLINT—A federal magistrate ruled this week that conservative hit group Project Veritas, founded by right-wing activist James O’Keefe, can no longer dodge its legal obligation to provide information to AFT Michigan about alleged unlawful activity conducted by the organization and its operatives. In a major victory, Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford granted AFT Michigan’s motion to compel legal discovery and ordered the process to begin within two weeks.
Stafford ruled that the objections to the legal discovery process by Project Veritas are “wholly without merit.” She also dismissed the request by Project Veritas to have AFT Michigan pay their legal fees.
AFT Michigan alleges that Project Veritas and its operative Marisa Jorge committed fraudulent, unauthorized and unlawful surveillance of AFT Michigan staff, leaders and associates for the purpose of distorting and disseminating that surveillance in order to smear the union. Jorge used an alias to secure an internship with AFT Michigan last year, ostensibly to obtain information Project Veritas could use in one of its famously misleading hit videos.
Project Veritas has a long history of using deception and obfuscation to avoid legal accountability for its actions, including major procedural delays, dodging warrants and refusing to participate in the legal discovery process. The American Federation of Teachers and AFT Michigan are committed to holding Project Veritas accountable for violations of the law and to protecting public school students, families and teachers from fraudulent interference in their efforts to obtain a high-quality education for students. We will pursue discovery as vigorously as permitted by law to prove the allegations made in our complaint.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “We are pleased that a federal judge has held Project Veritas accountable to the same legal due process that all defendants must follow. We are determined to hold unscrupulous political operatives accountable to the law, to expose their deceptions, and to protect students, families and teachers from their distortions and smear tactics.”