Ex-Operation Underground Railroad Employees Said OUR Misled Donors, Lied to Public

Whistleblowers told investigators, and tried to raise concerns internally, about “cowboy” behavior and misappropriation of donor funds. 
Tim Ballard of Operation Underground Roa
Screenshot of Tim Ballard from Operation Toussaint

Former Operation Underground Railroad employees interviewed by criminal investigators said the organization misused donor funds and lied to the public about the nature and effectiveness of its work. These interviews are among records compiled during a now-closed criminal investigation into the famed anti-trafficking activist Tim Ballard and OUR; these particular allegations were first reported by KSL, a Utah news station. 


The documents make clear that in recent years, according to its own employees, the organization did very little in the way of the much-publicized paramilitary “rescue” missions abroad, supposedly carried out by former members of U.S. special forces and meant to directly liberate women and children from sexual slavery, on which it made its name and reputation. Insiders who spoke to investigators said they viewed these as essentially a marketing tactic—one that bore spectacular fruit, as the group raised tens of millions of dollars annually and amassed assets of at least $80 million, according to federal tax filings.

“Everyone internally knows that they don’t rescue anyone anymore,” read an investigator’s notes from an interview with a former development director, in which he paraphrases her words, “but the public thinks that OUR is actively rescuing children. ‘And that’s just not true.’”

(As VICE News has previously reported, Ballard left OUR this summer following an internal investigation into sexual misconduct claims made against him. OUR previously told VICE News it has “retained an independent law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation of all relevant allegations.” Ballard has denied the allegations and said in an Instagram video that he needed to use what he called a “couples ruse” to fool traffickers.) 


The records also show an FBI special agent explaining to a former development director that she’d unknowingly been misleading donors by telling them, as she was instructed to, that 80% of money raised went directly to OUR’s mission. That would not, in fact, have been possible, he said, because 33% of the money OUR raised went directly into an investment account. The 80% figure reflected what went to rescues after investments were made and after overhead expenses were paid, he told her, making the true figure something more like 40%.

Among the documents are a 2020 letter from OUR’s director of domestic operations to higher-ups, in which he criticized the effectiveness of the organization’s work and wrote, “If the mission is to raise money I think we are doing a great job, but that isn't what I think our mission is.” According to a transcript of a subsequent staff call discussing the email, Ballard’s sister Emily Evans, then the organization’s senior director of PR and marketing, responded to criticism of her brother’s work by saying, “Tim is OUR and OUR is Tim.” On the same call, Brad Damon, OUR’s COO, likened him to Martin Luther King Jr. 


Detail from investigative file obtained through a public-records request.

Another subject of intense concern to investigators and witnesses was the misuse of donor funds, including millions of dollars raised from and by celebrities like media personality Glenn Beck and self-help guru Tony Robbins that was, witnesses said, used for other purposes than that for which it was earmarked—something that could potentially imperil its status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The records, for instance, state that money from the $18 million raised during Robbins’ 60th birthday celebration did not go to OUR but to The Nazarene Fund, a related but distinct group of which Ballard was also CEO. The former development director told investigators she found this diversion of funds “horrific.”


VICE News obtained the documents—which both KSL, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, and the Salt Lake Tribune independently acquired and reported on—through a public-records request. They derive from an investigation carried out by the FBI and the county attorney in Davis County, Utah. That investigation closed earlier this year without charges being brought. 

A spokesperson for Tim Ballard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. An OUR spokesperson sent the following statement, which we’ve reproduced in full: 

Operation Underground Railroad is conducting on average multiple missions a week in operations. Any representation, past or present, that O.U.R. does not participate in rescue missions is false. O.U.R.’s ongoing work represents a combination of boots on the ground, intelligence gathering, and contributing resources to law enforcement. 

The percentage of mission spend as it relates to overall expenses annually is referred to as a “program expense ratio”. O.U.R.’s program expenses, as a percentage of overall spend, place O.U.R. among the best operated charities, based on standards set by various charity watchdog groups. O.U.R. invests all revenues or donations in excess of its annual expenses in investments consistent with sound charitable business practices. O.U.R.’s statements relative to its use of funds have been and continue to be in accordance with industry standards and best practices.

O.U.R. is engaged in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. O.U.R. investigators work to identify as many victims of human trafficking as possible, all while working closely with local law enforcement.


Dave Lopez is a former Navy SEAL who first become involved with OUR in 2013, when, after being introduced to the organization by a former fellow SEAL, he participated in a mission in Colombia called Operation Triple Take, a sting operation aimed at child sex traffickers in which OUR worked with Colombian law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. (This operation was later presented in highly fictionalized form in Sound of Freedom, the surprise box-office hit from this year focused on Ballard’s supposed exploits.)

Around 2016, Ballard offered Lopez a larger role in the organization, essentially as Ballard’s number two in operations. ( This is according to notes taken by Davis County investigator Bryan Purdy from an interview of Lopez that he and FBI special agent Kevin Luke carried out in October 2020.)

In this role, Lopez remained an independent contractor, paid by three different organizations for doing two different jobs. As director of operations for The Nazarene Fund—a sister organization to OUR focused on religious minorities in the Middle East, which was founded by Glenn Beck and of which Ballard was then the CEO—he was paid through a company called White Mountain Research. As OUR’s director of operations in Haiti, a country on which the organization had a particular focus—Lopez is featured prominently in Operation Toussaint, a 2018 documentary about the group’s exploits in Haiti—he was sometimes paid by OUR but more often by Deacon, a for-profit subsidiary.


In Lopez’s telling, his work in Haiti involved working with and advising domestic law enforcement; gathering intelligence from local non-governmental organizations; and collaborating with law enforcement to carry out operations against traffickers, in consultation with Haiti’s attorney general and other local officials.

He soon began to realize, though, he told the investigators, that the way OUR worked had changed since his initial involvement with the group in its early days. Under the leadership of then-new operations director Jon Lines, insiders including current OUR president and COO Matt Osborne told him, the group was working in 18 different countries but wasn’t “doing actual operations” and was instead simply funding domestic law enforcement in those countries.

This claim is consistent with previous VICE News reporting, which found a clear pattern, both domestically and abroad: OUR would donate money or equipment to law enforcement agencies and then take credit for their work, implying it could not have been done without them or was carried out with their direct involvement. In some cases, the amount of money donated was minimal; several domestic law enforcement agencies told VICE News in 2020 that they’d opted to stop working with OUR, as the size of the donations wasn’t worth the strings that came attached, or the negative attention OUR had begun to attract. 


According to the investigators’ notes, Lopez had no problem with OUR’s shift in emphasis in theory, but objected that it simply didn’t align with what the public—and donors—were being told. 

"[T]he problem he had with it,” the notes read, “was that what they were marketing was 'Navy seals going in, jump teams going in, and actually doing hands on operations and actually getting kids out of their situations.’” The reality, he said, was different—OUR would donate to law-enforcement agencies and then take credit in public for the children rescued and traffickers arrested by those agencies.

“Dave said he started to see a massive dishonesty,” the notes read, “and he brought it up with Tim. Stating, ‘Tim if people find out that we're not doing you know operations the same way this could be very damaging and he responded with something to the effect of well how would they find out.’”

“Because when an OUR placard comes out and its ‘5 kids rescued 6 traffickers arrested,’ they don't say which law enforcement agency actually did that. What people assume when they see that is something like what happened in the documentary is what happened. Something operational happened and that's what everyone that is funding them thinks. That's what Tony Robbins thinks, that's what Glen Beck thinks but that isn't what they've been doing.”

After Lopez left OUR, he told investigators, had a contentious relationship with the group. The reason he reached out to those investigators, he said, was that in late August 2020, he had received a “very interesting and threatening phone call from Jon Lines.”  


(Lines was the group’s chief of operations and Ballard’s former boss at Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE. According to Ballard, he was “the best” and a figure as central to OUR’s founding as Ballard’s wife—“the only two people,” Ballard has written, who thought founding the organization was a good idea when it first began. He told VICE News that his time with OUR is covered by an NDA and that he was unable to discuss it past saying, “I left OUR a few years ago due to personal reasons, not termination. My departure was a result of fundamental differences in mission interpretation, approaches, and methods.” But, he added, he “categorically denies” leaving Lopez a threatening voicemail.) 

Around the time he left OUR, Lopez said, he received a cease and desist letter “because they said he was giving out confidential information about their operations,” considering it defamatory of him to tell people that he had left OUR because the group wasn’t doing hands-on operations. (This letter was provided to investigators, but wasn’t among the records released to VICE News.)

Lopez said that in 2019, OUR’s largest expense was payments to White Mountain Research, a group of former members of the military who did private contracting work and said they had worked extensively in the Middle East to save Christians from persecution in ISIS-controlled territory; Lopez was previously one of White Mountain’s operators. (According to tax filings, OUR paid the group just more than $2.4 million in 2019.) After Ballard came in as CEO of the Nazarene Fund, Lopez said, White Mountain did the same work it had previously done, with the same funding from Beck; the difference was that the money was now flowing through OUR, with OUR taking a cut. "Dave said everyone at White Mountain never wanted O.U.R. to take over,” the investigators’ notes read, “because now they just saw Tim come in and take the credit for what they were already doing to make it look like he was the one doing it."


Lopez also described how OUR set up at least one by then highly unusual operation aimed at impressing a major donor and giving him a false impression.

"Tony Robbins was brought to one of the last big rescues that O.U.R. did where they rented out a yacht in Haiti," the investigators' notes read. "They brought Tony Robbins down to show him how they ran that operation and Dave said, 'That's why Tony became a believer in what they were doing.' However, Dave said that wasn't how O.U.R. was operating anymore. Even at that time it wasn't the standard mission."

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 27: Tony Robbins attends the Amazon Studios' World Premiere of "AIR" at Regency Village Theatre on March 27, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

“I know these people,” Lopez said, according to the investigator’s notes. “I know Glenn and Tony and all these guys that are giving all this money thinking that something is happening, that's really not happening. Plain and simple and it just kinda eats me up that there is this facade out there."

In August 2021, at the FBI’s office in Provo, Purdy and Luke spoke to the former OUR development director. (We are not using her name, at her request, and will instead refer to her as “Jones,” a pseudonym.) In her interview, she expressed concerns about misleading donors about both how their money was spent and about the qualifications of some OUR staffers to do the work they claimed to do.

According to Purdy’s notes from the interview, "Jones stated that while working there she saw what was referred to within the ranks or OUR as there being two OUR's. There was OUR and then OUR 2.0. OUR 2.0 was Tim's version and all the messes and dysfunctions that he created and OUR went around trying to clean up Tim's mess.”


Jones said that the most fundamental problem she faced after being recruited to join OUR was the organization’s opacity, which she believed could imperil its status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit because of mismatches between what donors believed their money was being used for and what it was in fact used for.

"OUR hated reporting, they did not, it irritated them, the accountability piece," she said, according to Purdy's notes. “"We just told this donor that they were funding this rescue, and then Tim just went off and offered that same rescue to a different donor, and they all want their name on it. You can't do that twice." 

Another problem, she said, was Ballard’s misrepresentation of the qualifications of OUR staff and of the standards of the rescue work they did do.

“Jones said Matt Osborne is touted as a CIA operative when in fact Matt only sat at a desk as an analyst,” according to Purdy’s notes. “She said that Tim tells people that he worked at the CIA briefly and was so good that the Department of Homeland Security 'cherry picked' him to work for them. Jones said this is very misleading to the public and misleading to the donors. Jones continued to ask around the office about Tim's CIA experience and was finally told by his sister Emily, that he only worked for the CIA for months.” 

Jones, the notes add, was also concerned about Ballard bringing friends or people he wanted to impress on missions. Per the notes, she said, “Tim would frequently take a bunch of 'buddies' or people that he wanted to bring on the rescue missions without clearing them with the OUR Team. She mentioned one op was canceled because one of Tim's friends took a camera and recorded and compromised the op. She said many of the people who went on ops were not vetted or prepared to be in the environments they encountered. She mentions Tim brought one young BYU college student who worked with video production and he ended up getting himself in trouble in the strip clubs while they were working the ops."


Misrepresentation of numbers, Jones told investigators, was “a really big issue.” She said that Matt Osborne had begun telling her “years ago” that the organization was not doing rescues abroad anymore. 

“We both know that we hardly rescue abroad anymore,” Jones paraphrased Osborne as saying, per investigators. “Everyone internally knows that they don’t rescue anyone anymore, but the public thinks that OUR is actively rescuing children. ‘And that’s just not true.’”

Jones also added that “OUR is simply a passthrough organization, not really doing the rescues, not really doing the aftercare, just funding it all but does not tell the donors that,” according to the files. “Jones said she tried to tell Tim and the OUR staff to just tell the donors the truth but they didn't like that. They wanted to promote that OUR was doing the rescues and all the work."

Like other former employees, Jones, too, told investigators that she was concerned about donor funds that had been earmarked for a specific purpose being inappropriately diverted.  

“Not only would I say unequivocally to OUR but it would come up in donor meetings,” Jones said, “that they did not want their money to go to 'The Nazarene Fund.'" (The Nazarene Fund is the Glenn Beck-founded organization that claims to rescue persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East and became a sister organization to OUR. Ballard acted as its CEO until this summer; he left that role shortly after leaving OUR. TNF has told VICE News, “There were no concerns or suspicion of wrongdoing by Tim Ballard regarding his work at The Nazarene Fund.” ) 

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Glenn Beck, conservative political commentator and radio host, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, US, on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. The Conservative Political Action Conference launched in 1974 brings together conservative organizations, elected leaders, and activists. Photographer: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Is that misleading to the typical donor based on your experience?” asked Luke, the FBI special agent. “Absolutely,” said Jones. “Donors would say to me listen, not that I think you know persecuted minority Christians in the middle east aren’t important, but as an individual, or a business professional, I don’t want any of my gifts traced to the middle east. I don’t want them to. And so, it was an internal discussion a handful of times to make sure that what OUR does is kept incredibly separate from Nazarene fund. That Tim could be a CEO of both but they could be kept separate from each other.

“Jones said it was incredibly alarming that funds from Tony Robbins birthday donations went straight to the Nazarene Fund… ‘it’s horrific.’”

Luke asked Jones how much of the money that came in went directly to rescue missions and caring for survivors.

“They said 80%... of ALL donations,” she said, according to the files. “80 Cents on the dollar, sometimes 81 cents…goes directly to our mission,” with the remaining 20% going to overhead and administrative costs.

“SA Luke,” according to the files, “explained to Jones that the 80% was actually 80% of the cost spent toward the mission after the overhead cost and after the 33 percent right off the top which was moved into an investment fund.”

“This is why they would never show us,” said Jones. “I’m telling you this is why they would never show us.”

“SA Luke,” according to the files, “Explained that 80 cents of the remaining 50 cents goes to the rescues and asked what she heard from OUR was that 80 of every dollar received went to the rescues.”


“Every donated dollar, to the penny. And I heard that specifically," she said, "over and over and over again, because it was my job to speak to it."

“So if I told you that the first 33% of every dollar that came in went into a private investment account,” said Luke, “you would say what?”

"I would have told every donor the truth," said Jones.

"Jones said that when she was working there, if she had found out that information, 'I would have told everybody and left. I would have told everyone and left. Nobody knows, knew that when I was there if that is true and that also explains nobody would hire anybody," adding, according to Purdy’s notes, that "it never made sense to her and others as to why they wouldn't hire more staff when they had millions of dollars coming in."

"If this is true," she said, "there are countless lies I was told.” 

In August 2020, according to the records, there was turmoil stirring within the organization.

In a 2020 letter suggesting edits to a documentary OUR was producing, and which is contained in the files, Lines expressed grave concerns over exaggeration and misrepresentation of the group’s work. At one point, he noted that falsely depicting the group as “trained killers” for marketing purposes had caused its insurance premiums to skyrocket. He also raised serious concerns over what he called the “objectification” and “victimization” of minor trafficking victims.


A newer senior employee had concerns, too. Domestic coordinator Carlos Rodriguez, who’d only recently joined the organization, had quickly become frustrated with what he saw as the organization’s amateurism and misrepresentations.  Rodriguez is a former sergeant with the Washington State Patrol, who served on the governor’s detail and Missing and Exploited Children Task Force; he appears to have worked for OUR for just three months. (In response to a request for comment from VICE News, Rodriguez said, "I don’t have anything to do with that organization any longer due to fundamental differences.")

His frustration would soon reach a breaking point. In that short time, he wrote a pointed email to leadership about misrepresentations made by Ballard and others, which led to a tense staff call. 

Rodriguez was a Lines hire, and through back channels the two were discussing what appear, from the documents, to have been shared frustrations.

Investigators obtained an email Lines sent Rodriguez on August 14, 2020, consisting of the text “I sent this back in April” over a forwarded email from earlier that year. It suggested edits for a documentary, then in production, about Operation Triple Take, the operation in Colombia in which Lopez had participated and which was presented in highly fictionalized form in Sound of Freedom. The email had been sent to Ballard and to Emily Evans, his sister and OUR’s senior director of PR and marketing. 


Lines’ critique can be read here. Much of it is concerned with asking for the identities of law enforcement officers, undercover operatives (“Just don’t want him killed and dismembered”), and minor children to be concealed, as well as identifying specific areas where the film reveals the group’s methods.

Lines also, though, asked for some things to be suppressed because they were, simply put, embarrassing. In his email, he asked for references to a $5,000 payoff to a “dirtbag” in exchange for an introduction to be struck, noting that group is a “non profit that receive[s] sacred funds from many private people to include little old ladies and struggling families." Another suggested cut was Glenn Beck talking about a tool Ballard used and showed him. "I'm assuming that was ICOPS,” Lines wrote, “the software that was designed to expose live interaction of online predators via P2P communication. Any use of that tool outside of a LEA's official role is restricted and assertions that Tim had showed some potential donors resulted in harsh condemnation by ICAC."

(ICAC stands for Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; these are operated by law enforcement agencies at the state, local and federal level. It’s not clear if Lines was referring to one such group or to the national network of thousands of them.)


One of the more interesting passages concerns Paul Hutchinson, the Utah philanthropist and anti-trafficking activist who helped found OUR and was subsequently the first funder and executive producer of Sound of Freedom. Elsewhere in the documents are investigative notes on an episode in which Hutchinson was filmed groping the naked breasts of a trafficking victim he and his associates believed to be 16 years old. (Hutchinson told VICE News that he had an affidavit from Mexican police asserting that the girl was in fact at least 18, but declined to provide it.)

Lines expressed concerns about questionable comments made by Hutchinson to a child, which were captured on tape. “5:01-5:18 needs to be cut out,” Lines wrote. “That is Paul and such a comment to 12 year old girl, Betsy, from one of my operators would be unacceptable. Our legitimate operators are trained how to speak to children to mitigate further victimization and avoid further objectification. It's not only creepy to hear, but since he is an OUR equity in the film, please cut that out. Other savvy NGO's or child protection professionals would object to one of 'us' telling a 12 year old baby that she is 'beautiful,' or 'muy linda.'"

(“All my undercover work was done with integrity and honor,” Hutchinson previously told VICE News, while commenting on the groping incident.) 


Another Lines comment went to the fundamental and complete divergence between what the organization actually was and how it marketed itself.

“21:05-21:50- please edit out Dave Lopez shooting and all footage of Navy Seals in training with firearms,” Lines wrote. “That cannot be part of our messaging. We do not carry or shoot weapons. We can't even train our partners in firearms. Lloyd's of London contacted us immediately upon seeing the scenes in Toussaint where Dave was teaching firearms tactics. They wanted to immediately significantly increase our insurance premiums. Sending the message that we are trained killers is not a message we should be sending to our supporters or insurance carriers.”

This was, of course, the message OUR had been sending all along: that they were a highly trained paramilitary group, with the heroics and firepower to back it up. 

A month after Lines forwarded this email to Rodriguez, around the same time as Lopez’s first conversation with investigators, Rodriguez, OUR’s domestic coordinator, sent an email to OUR leaders including Ballard, Lines, Ballard’s sister Emily Evans, and Ballard’s sister-in-law Tevya Ware. The email was aimed at starting what he called a “difficult conversation.”

“If I am wrong about this then just tell me,” he wrote, “but if I don’t speak up then I feel I am doing a disservice to the organization.” 

Rodriguez’s letter, which can be read in full here, detailed his own concerns about how the organization represented itself publicly. 


Two of those had to do with social media posts. In one, he objected to the fact that OUR had promoted Sound of Freedom, which had at that point been filmed but for which producers had not found a distributor. Rodriguez wrote that he’d previously raised concerns about maintaining a distinction between the non-profit and the movie, which seemed to have been ignored. 

Rodriguez’ other, more serious concern was over survivor privacy; specifically, a Facebook video in which OUR told the story of a boy named “Andrew.” 

"Why are we showing his face even if blurred and talking about a boy that is still receiving services,” Rodriguez wrote. “We discussed this as well about how that is a form of exploitation and that boy isn't able to consent. I don't agree with it. It may bring in dollars, but at what cost." (A video of the same survivor is still online and was viewed this week by VICE News; in what seems to be a nod towards anonymity, the child’s eyes are blurred out.) 

Rodriguez was also concerned about an interview that Ballard—a frequent guest on various podcasts—had done with a show called The Real Deal of Parenting. Ballard had talked about coming home from operations; but as far as Rodriguez knew, he wrote, Ballard never went on them. Ballard had referred to OUR working on and solving problems. 


“WE don’t do the actual work,” Rodriguez wrote. 

Ballard had also let the interviewer say that OUR made arrests without correcting her; as a nonprofit, and not a law enforcement agency, that would of course be impossible. And Rodriguez wrote that Ballard had used the term “child pornography,” which is contrary to best practices maintained by those who work with survivors. Rodriguez explained that the term should only be used in the context of outlining why terms like “child abuse material” or “child sexual abuse material” should be used instead. 

Ballard also stated on the podcast that OUR wasn’t political, before immediately following up with a variety of partisan political points. They included what Rodriguez, who had worked on the issue for many years, described as the false claim that the Trump administration had done more to fight trafficking than any previous administration. Finally, Rodriguez was put off by the promotion of the documentary Operation Toussaint, which, he said, would be alarming to the law enforcement officers with whom OUR needed to work because it showed poor planning and “cowboy tactics”and because it was “more about Tim than the mission,” in his opinion.

“That interview adds to the sensationalism and this makes me feel we aren't going to make the necessary changes to be successful in accomplishing the mission of protecting kids and holding those accountable that wish/cause them harm,” he wrote. “If the mission is to raise money I think we are doing a great job, but that isn't what I think our mission is.”


Citing his eight years of experience in the anti-trafficking field, Rodriguez closed with a prescient warning about how OUR’s marketing tactics could harm the organization’s credibility. "When we put out information that isn't spot on, sensationalized, wrong, or outdated,” he wrote, “we won't be trusted." (Indeed, as sources told VICE News three years ago, law enforcement agencies did come to view OUR as untrustworthy and severed ties with it.) 

Shortly after Rodriguez sent the email, Tim Ballard held a video meeting for administrative staff to discuss it; investigators obtained the audio of that meeting and Purdy, the Davis County investigator, took detailed notes on it, which can be read here.

“I’m going to be very bold,” Ballard said, according to the notes. “You were bold, I think you appreciate bold.”

Ballard spent much of the meeting disputing or dismissing specific points Rodriguez had made. (While Rodriguez had, for instance, written that he thought Ballard was lying when he described coming home from operations, Ballard said that he had been on many, and had even been on one within the last year. More than that, though, he asserted, “‘I came home from an operation' could mean I came home from the office back to reality, to my house. From my office to my house.”)

The point he seemed most concerned with, though, was philosophical, and had to do with the nature of OUR’s work.

"Here's the thing," Ballard said. "Let me just tell you about, maybe you haven't been here very long, so. How we fight this. It's not this saving kids vs raising money. They're not mutually exclusive, they're co-dependent on each other. Right? And it's not just raising money. The stories we tell, documentaries, movies, it's not just raising money, it's much more than that."

Ballard continued to expand on the broader mission of OUR, comparing himself to Harriet Beecher Stowe, before returning to specific points. The organization was not going to maintain a distinction between it and Sound of Freedom—a movie so successful that a sequel was in the works, he said, despite the fact that it wouldn’t be released for another three years—because it was Ballard’s story and the OUR story. It was also not going to stop using the images of child trafficking survivors, he said, because “this has been discussed and decided that this is how 'we' (OUR) do it.”

"When the White House wants to know about human trafficking," he said, "they literally call me. When the Senate wants to hear a testimony, they literally call me to testify about it. That doesn't just happen because you don't know what you're doing." He then brought up Operation Toussaint, the documentary. Rodriguez said that a firearms training shown in it was poor; that having given hundreds of briefings to SWAT teams, he felt he had authority to say that a briefing shown in it was “shitty”; and that when he talked to law enforcement, he was told, because of the way the group marketed itself, “You guys look like cowboys.”

"Carlos said he goes to conferences,” read the investigator’s notes, “and meet with other agencies and his integrity is questioned because of his affiliation with OUR." 

"What I think is,” Rodriguez said, “is sometimes the messaging that some of this stuff is portrayed, sometimes makes it where people are thinking its more about the man than the mission."

At this point, Brad Damon, the COO, began to speak, lauding Ballard for being a leader and for being invited to talk to powerful people all over the world about trafficking.

"As far as him (Tim) try to be about Tim, or a cowboy or whatever the language is, I know for a fact, and I can speak very specifically to this space... in terms of monetizing your name, your existence, your company, your business, that sort of thing, because I've done that. And I have friends that are in very high places and I'e watched that take place in their career. Tim could be monetizing about 9 or 10 different channels right now that would put him in a seven-figure platform on every single one of them. Yet he's making jack squat on those. He pushes all that to OUR. Ok, all of it. And just like Martin Luther King when he stood up, yeah, he had a message. Yeah, it was his face on there so what's he going to do, because a couple people say it's all about Martin Luther. Does that mean he shuts down and shuts himself down in a closet, no."

(As VICE News has reported, Ballard in fact did seem to be planning to monetize his notoriety.)

"Let me tell you what OUR's philosophy is. This is, telling stories saves lives. Telling stories moves the needle and Tim has an interesting story that people connect to," said Ballard. "That's what it's about."

After nearly an hour of what the investigator’s notes show as mainly Ballard and Damon castigating Rodriguez, Lines stepped in to defend him, lauding his purity, humility, and dedication to the anti-trafficking cause.

"That's why I brought somebody in to keep me in check to make sure that we are consistent with our mission and our objective in the operations,” said Lines. “To make sure we embrace law enforcement that we endear ourselves to them and we are responsive to their concerns. Carlos has been barraged lately be people that just come out with him and said, we have a problem with Operation Underground Railroad and I'll tell you way. I think that is his (Carlos's) concern is he feels like we are hindered in our potential to actually do what we need to do as operations and engage those very people Tim. I hope you agree with me that without law enforcement, we can't do anything."

Soon after, Emily Evans, Ballard’s sister, spoke up to defend him.

“If you don’t like Tim, do not work here,” she said. “Because Tim is OUR and OUR is Tim.”

Not long after that, the meeting ended. Before long, Lines and Rodriguez parted ways with OUR.

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