James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, speaking in Greenwich Wednesday.

An assistant principal at a Greenwich elementary school is facing an investigation by local and state officials following the release of what is described as a secretly recorded video showing him talking in different locations about his efforts to weed out politically conservative staff, including Roman Catholics.

Jeremy Boland, the assistant principal, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, according to Greenwich Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones.

The 12-minute video of Boland, speaking to a woman who is never seen on camera, was distributed by Project Veritas, a discredited far-right group founded by James O’Keefe in 2010.

In the video, Boland says: “Honestly, I don’t want to,” when asked if he’d hire a Catholic. When asked why, he says if someone is “raised a hardcore Catholic, it’s like they’re brainwashed. You can never change their mindset.”

The woman, who is never seen on camera, asks what he does if he finds out someone is Catholic: “You don’t hire them,” Boland says.

He also talks about how “more progressive teachers” are “savvy” about “delivering a Democratic message” to students without having to reveal their personal political preferences.

On Wednesday at a press conference in Greenwich hosted by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leora Levy, O’Keefe said “journalism matters. If this is real investigative reporting then if all you guys were doing your jobs there wouldn’t be a need for people like me.”

“We just want our public officials to be honest,” O’Keefe said, teasing the release of additional videos. 

Asked about the circumstances under which Boland met with the Project Veritas staff O’Keefe said “he was in a public place sharing his thoughts with our undercover journalist.”

“He knew he was being spoken to. It was a public place, and we stand by our reporting the same way you guys stand by your reporting when you do investigations,” O’Keefe told a reporter for the Greenwich Time.

He said more videos would be released.

Politicians on both sides of the political aisle swiftly condemned the comments. 

“Discrimination of any kind has no place in Connecticut, especially in our public schools. This is not aligned with our Connecticut values,” Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said. “The Connecticut State Department of Education is aware of the incident, has been in contact with Greenwich Public School administrators, and is monitoring the situation’s progress.”

Lamont’s opponent, Republican Bob Stefanowski, said he’s “deeply troubled,” by the video. 

“The Greenwich School District is right to suspend this individual and launch an investigation. If this person is found guilty of violating state anti-discrimination laws, it is my hope that he is fully prosecuted and never sees the inside of a classroom again,” Stefanowski said. 

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said “Discrimination of any kind has no place in our community or in our school system. I have full faith this matter will be investigated thoroughly by the State Department of Education and Greenwich Public Schools and that all parties will be held accountable.”

Following an unrelated press conference Thursday, Republican legislative leaders, Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, and Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said the comments warranted an independent investigation in addition to inquiries by state and local education officials.

Asked about the video’s editing and “gotcha” format, Kelly said:  “Let’s not lose the forest through the trees. Whether it was done in a situation that was a ‘set-up,’ or whether it’s done like this morning at a podium, the words were uttered. And they came from a public official who was in charge of hiring and he was explaining to someone else what his hiring practices were… Those statements were made – however we got them – those statements are there.”