Project Veritas founder and CEO at an event in Greenwich. Credit: Screengrab of FB

Project Veritas founder and CEO James O’Keefe said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong’s request for records from its undercover investigation of a Greenwich assistant principal violates the freedom of the press. 

“In America, the government shouldn’t attack journalists or attempt to chill or silence them. Journalism should be left to journalists,” O’Keefe’s attorney’s said in response to Deputy Associate Attorney General Gregory O’Connell’s request to preserve records. “We think there is something really wrong with vigilante law enforcement, and we don’t think it should be celebrated when state prosecutors hide behind tin badges and preen before the cameras, peddling partisan, petty, politically motivated soundbites.” 

On Sept. 1, Tong announced he was using his civil rights authority to open an investigation into the hiring practices of Greenwich education officials following the release of what is described as a secretly recorded video in which an assistant principal claimed to screen teacher candidates by their age and religion.

The edited, undercover video was distributed by Project Veritas, a discredited far-right group that O’Keefe founded in 2010.

In a Sept. 2 letter to Project Veritas, O’Connell wrote: “This letter is your notice to preserve all material potentially relevant to this investigation. You must take immediate action to prevent the deletion or spoliation of any such material. We anticipate issuing subpoenas for relevant material. If our investigation substantiates a pattern or practice of illegal conduct, we may initiate appropriate litigation to enforce federal and state law.” 

O’Keefe said at an event last night in Greenwich that he has no plans on handing over any of the material requested by the letter. 

“I wonder if they’re investigating the principal or Project Veritas?” O’Keefe said. 

“Kindly inform your boss that Mr. O’Keefe respectfully suggests that the Attorney General stay in his lane and do what the citizens and voters of Connecticut expect of him,” O’Keefe’s attorneys wrote. “First, enforce the law by conducting a bona fide, good faith investigation of discriminatory employment practices in Connecticut’s public schools, even if the goals of those illegal practices may be consistent with the Attorney General’s personal political beliefs.” 

Prior to announcing the investigation earlier this month, Tong said: “I think there’s something really wrong with vigilante journalism, and I don’t think it should be celebrated. There are no rules when somebody engages in Wild West vigilante journalism and tries to entrap somebody.”

One day later he announced the investigation into the remarks made by the Greenwich assistant principal, who has since been placed on leave, following the video. 

“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” a spokesman for Tong said. “As the Attorney General said when he first announced this investigation, our work will be we thorough and comprehensive. We cannot comment further.”