Banjo's CEO resigns after report details KKK ties in his past

Taylor Hatmaker
Buildings stand in the skyline of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, told the Senate Finance Committee this week he opposes limiting tax deductions for charitable contributions to churches. "Private educational institutions, hospitals, social welfare agencies and innumerable other organizations" would be impacted according to Oaks. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After investigative reporting revealed his undisclosed involvement in shooting at a synagogue with KKK members at age 17, the CEO of Banjo will leave the company he founded.

In a short blog post, the company announced a "change in leadership" and the resignation of its founder and CEO Damien Patton. The Utah-based company will transition "to a new, reconstituted leadership team effectively immediately."

"I am confident Banjo’s greatest days are still ahead, and will do everything in my power to ensure our mission succeeds," Patton said in the post. "However, under the current circumstances, I believe Banjo’s best path forward is under different leadership."

Patton leaves the company as valuable contracts with its home state of Utah went on hold in light of the explosive report, published in OneZero. The story revealed that at age 17, Patton drove a KKK member past a synagogue while he shot at the building. He reportedly went into hiding at a white supremacist training camp after the incident.

Banjo suspends state surveillance contracts after report details founder’s white supremacist past


In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Utah's Attorney General office said it was "shocked and dismayed" at reports of Patton's prior affiliation with hate groups.

The company's CTO, Justin R. Lindsey, who joined the company full-time less than a year ago, will step into the top role.

Even prior to revelations of Patton's past, Banjo had come under scrutiny by privacy advocates for its pivot from a social tech company into a real-time intelligence platform for law enforcement. Last year, the company's director of government affairs for Utah told a group of public officials that Banjo "essentially [does] most of what Palantir does, we just do it live."

In its blog post announcing Patton's departure, the company emphasized its "unswerving commitment" to protecting private data and characterized its work as "technology solutions that protect privacy."