Fact Check

Did Project Veritas' James O'Keefe Star in a Production of 'Oklahoma'?

O'Keefe founded the conservative publisher Project Veritas, which has become known for sting operations that employ undercover cameras.

Published Feb 9, 2023

James O'Keefe, an American conservative political activist and founder of Project Veritas, is pictured at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 (CPAC) on Feb. 28, 2020, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Image Via Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Claim:
In 2021, conservative activist and Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe starred in a stage production of the musical "Oklahoma."

On Feb. 8, 2023, Twitter users shared information that claimed James O'Keefe, the conservative activist and founder of Project Veritas, which is primarily known for its undercover sting videos, once starred in a stage production of the musical "Oklahoma!".

We soon found that this rumor was true.

We've reported about O'Keefe and Project Veritas before, most recently on the subject of its investigation into Pfizer and vaccines and a leaked video that featured Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In this story, we'll talk about why O'Keefe's acting role was being discussed when it was, as well as look at past reporting about this subject. Readers will also get a glimpse at videos and still photographs of O'Keefe's performance.

O'Keefe Reportedly on Leave

On Feb. 8, the tidbit about O'Keefe's role in "Oklahoma!" was tweeted about by The Daily Beast's Justin Baragona and reported on by Will Sommer.

The reason why users were talking about O'Keefe's performance was because his name was in the news on the same day for another reason.

According to NYMag.com, O'Keefe was on paid leave after some of the company's employees signed a letter with concerns about his conduct in the workplace. Project Veritas issued a response on Twitter, but did not mention O'Keefe by name.

"There are 65+ employees at Project Veritas dedicated to continuing the mission to expose corruption, dishonesty, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions," the statement read, in part.

At the time we published this fact check, the story about O'Keefe's employment was still developing. The Daily Beast and NYMag.com reported that they were unable to receive comment from O'Keefe on the matter.

'Excess Benefit' Paid for 'Oklahoma!'

On Dec. 12, 2022, The New York Times published that Project Veritas had reported in a filing to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that "it provided a prohibited 'excess benefit'" to O'Keefe.

The "excess benefit" amount was reported as being $20,512.

A spokesperson for the company acknowledged the amount and told The New York Times that the spending was "related to Project Veritas staff who accompanied Mr. O'Keefe when he starred in an outdoor production of 'Oklahoma!'."

The story from the Times has more on the subject, and added, "Project Veritas also has an ongoing defamation suit against The New York Times."

O'Keefe in 'Oklahoma!'

As for O'Keefe's acting role, it's true that he once starred in a stage production of "Oklahoma!." The performance was an offering from the company Brian Clowdus Experiences. It played in an outdoor farm setting in Roseland, Virginia, between Aug. 19 and Sept. 5, 2021.

Brian Clowdus, the CEO of the production company, responded to the recent reporting from NYMag.com and The Daily Beast to show support for O'Keefe while he was reportedly on leave.

According to an announcement from Project Veritas, the production's cast was at least partially made up of people who had been "blacklisted through cancel culture for simply standing up for their personal beliefs."

We found videos that showed O'Keefe performing in the role of Curly McLain, who sings the "Oklahoma!" tune, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'." He can be seen on a horse at the beginning of the clip:

Another video was posted to Twitter by conservative influencer Jack Posobiec that also showed O'Keefe and other cast members singing:

Several Facebook posts from Brian Clowdus Experiences also showed photographs of O'Keefe rehearsing and performing:

More information about the production can be found on the same Facebook page.

This story will be updated if further developments come to light.

Sources

"ANNOUNCEMENT: James O'Keefe Lands Lead Role in Off-Broadway Outdoor Production of 'Oklahoma!' Performing in Solidarity with Artists Who've Been Cancelled." Project Veritas, 22 May 2021, https://www.projectveritas.com/news/announcement-james-okeefe-lands-lead-role-in-off-broadway-outdoor-production/.

"Brian Clowdus Experiences." Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BCExperiences/.

Fahrenthold, David A., and Adam Goldman. "Project Veritas Says It Provided $20,500 in 'Excess Benefit' to Its Founder." The New York Times, 12 Dec. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/12/us/politics/project-veritas-james-okeefe-taxes.html.

Liles, Jordan. "Breaking Down the Project Veritas Video About Pfizer Purportedly Exploring 'Mutating' COVID-19." Snopes, 31 Jan. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/01/31/project-veritas-pfizer-mutating-covid/.

---. "Leaked Video Clip of Zuckerberg Discussing Vaccines Omits Context." Snopes, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/02/06/zuckerberg-vaccines-video/.

"Oklahoma!" Brian Clowdus Experiences, https://brianclowdus.com/performances/oklahoma.

Sommer, Will. "James O'Keefe 'Outright Cruel' to Project Veritas Employees, Internal Memo Alleges." The Daily Beast, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/james-okeefe-outright-cruel-to-project-veritas-employees-internal-memo.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

Article Tags

Read More

Become
a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.

Perks

Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime
default