The Trials of Nadia Naffe

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  March 4, 2013

Nadia Naffe says that Andrew Breitbart (above) did not offer her support after her harrowing experience in James O'Keefe's barn.


Beef with O’Keefe

Upon returning to Boston, Naffe noticed some things missing from her luggage — namely a pair of panties and her wireless computer mouse. She emailed O’Keefe’s assistant, demanding that her items be returned, but was told that no undergarments could be found. After a week, someone at Project Veritas finally sent her the mouse — only she says that it had been taken apart and crudely reassembled, as if they’d inspected the device for bugs. Naffe says it all came as a saddening surprise, though there’d been prior indications that O’Keefe wanted more than just a work relationship.

“It was a platonic friendship from my standpoint, but I don’t think he thought of it that way,” says Naffe, who often discussed O’Keefe’s romantic life with him. “I used to think of James as a little brother, and I made the mistake of telling him that. He didn’t like it when I said it, and now I know why. . . . He has a little trouble connecting to women.”

Naffe says she told some close friends about what happened in New Jersey — including a few in conservative circles who knew O’Keefe. But she didn’t make her story public right away. Naffe says that restraint kept Project Veritas off her back, but not for long. Less than two weeks after the barn incident, the rumor of her missing undies leaked to DC political writer Ken Vogel, who was soliciting details for a looming Politico piece. That’s when Naffe says she decided to play defense.

Word of Vogel’s interest in the story travelled fast. Two weeks after her scrape with O’Keefe at the barn, Naffe says Breitbart rang and asked her to avoid the reporter. Rather than humoring Breitbart, Naffe says that she asked why he’d ignored her calls from the barn. According to her account, Breitbart claimed to have no control over his protege’s behavior, and said that O’Keefe lacked “common sense.” Instead of supporting her, Naffe says he turned it into a joke. “Nadia,” she says Breitbart quipped, “he stole my panties too.”

In late October, Naffe claims that O’Keefe offered her money. She says she had never before received or expected compensation for her undercover work with O’Keefe; as such, she suspected this payment was in exchange for her silence.

In early November, Naffe sent a letter to O’Keefe and his cohorts at Project Veritas. In it she gave an explicit account of the barn debacle and accused O’Keefe of soiling her reputation. In response, two weeks later O’Keefe posted a video on YouTube attacking Naffe and Vogel, the latter of whose damaging Politico story dropped on the same day. Besides attacking Naffe’s credibility, the clip included pictures of her and noted that she was studying in Cambridge. Now fearing for her privacy and safety, with trolls emerging from the political woodwork to threaten her life, on November 21 Naffe filed a criminal complaint against O’Keefe in New Jersey for his harassment in the wake of the barn incident.

Naffe had considered herself to be close buds with Breitbart. They’d hung out at gala fundraisers; on more than one occasion, they smoked expensive cigars and rapped politics on the patio at Morton’s in DC. She says that she expected Breitbart to at least remain neutral. So she was horrified by his suggestion in the Vogel piece that she should be handled like an inconvenient witness. “There are a lot of people who want to destroy [O’Keefe],” Breitbart told Politico, “so I’m sympathetic to him and I understand that, like me, he is going to have to figure out how to manage people.”

“I had always thought that — and I know this is horrible to say — I always thought these things happened to bad girls who went to bars and picked up guys they didn’t know,” says Naffe. “I knew James very well at that point, and I never would have thought that he would do that — I wouldn’t have thought he was psychotic enough to come after me the way he did.” She continues: “I went the legal route because I wanted him to leave me alone, and instead of leaving me alone, he doubled down, and got his friends to join in on the attack. I thought he would just walk away, but that’s just not the way he operates. He wants to win. He wants to have the last word.”

NEXT: The war between Naffe and O'Keefe escalates, and suddenly expands to include large, angry, vocal factions on both sides of the partisan divide . . .

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