On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?
“Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district,” noted the Bee.
These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called “SLAPP suits,” or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes’ FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.
“That means Nunes is either paying for the lawsuits out of his own pocket, promising to pay his lawyer a portion of any money they’re awarded in court at a later date, or flouting House Ethics rules that would require him to publicly disclose who is funding the legal work,” concluded the Bee.
The Bee has itself faced public attacks from Nunes after publishing a story about cocaine and prostitutes allegedly found on a charity yacht cruise financed by a winery that Nunes is invested in. McClatchy, the media company that owns the Bee, is the target of one of Nunes’ lawsuits.
“Nunes would have to set up a legal defense fund to accept free legal services or to receive money from a benefactor. Members of Congress have strict rules against receiving generous gifts, with some exceptions for family,” noted the Bee. However, “Nunes has no such fund set up, according to a public records search by McClatchy. Even under the rules of that fund, set up by Congress, no one person could donate more than the $5,000 limit,” according to Campaign Legal Center general counsel Kedric Payne.
Some of Nunes’ critics, said the Bee, have speculated that he may have a right-wing billionaire backing him, in much the same way Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker was financed by pro-Trump tech billionaire Peter Thiel. “But the wealthy benefactor theory seems less probably than in the Gawker case with the wide range of entities Nunes is suing … And, unlike Hogan, Nunes would face penalties if he had a benefactor and did not disclose it. The House Ethics [Committee] could impose fines on Nunes if it found he had improperly received gifts as a congressman, according to Payne.
Virginia defamation attorney Lee Berlik believes the most likely answer is that Biss is working pro bono or on contingency. “It would not surprise me … He’s getting a lot of free publicity – people are learning his name,” he said.
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Trump Allies So Shaken by His White Supremacist Dinner a Top Campaign Aide Will Now ‘Be Present With Him at All Times’
Top allies of Donald Trump were so disturbed by his decision to have dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes last week that the ex-president and 2024 GOP candidate will now have a handler with him around the clock.
The Associated Press also reports the campaign has also changed the protocols for visitors and will start to vet guests who come to see Trump, after the few procedures in place allowed antisemite Kanye West to bring along three guests.
“In an acknowledgment of the severity of the backlash and an effort to prevent a repeat, Trump’s campaign is putting new protocols in place to ensure that those who meet with him are approved and fully vetted, according to people familiar with the plans who requested anonymity to share internal strategy,” the AP adds, revealing the campaign apparently does not trust the 76-year old ex-president to make decisions about who he should or should not spend time with.
“The changes will include expediting a system, borrowed from Trump’s White House, in which a senior campaign official will be present with him at all times, according to one of the people,” the AP adds, revealing what appears to be a previously unknown fact.
The lax security at Mar-a-Lago was in place when Trump was storing 300 documents with various classified markings, including documents with top secret information and a set with the highest level of classification.
In yet another stunning revelation the AP reports that the antisemitic Holocaust “denier” and white supremacist Fuentes “arrived by car with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and was waved into the club by security, even though only Ye had been on the security list, according to one of the people present and others briefed on the events.”
The AP also reports that “Fuentes apparently did not show his ID and the car’s driver, a frequent guest at the club, got in using a credit card after misplacing her license.”
The report does not mention the other two guests Trump dined with, reportedly far right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who has supported adult men having sex with young teens, and Karen Trump 2016 aide Karen Giorno, who was reportedly involved in a pay-for-pardon scheme.
Five Engines of Secret Service Rental Vehicles for the President’s Thanksgiving Break Catch Fire
The Nantucket Current reported that five of the vehicles rented by the U.S. Secret Service caught fire at the local airport during President Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving break. Biden’s family has met in Nantucket for Thanksgiving for decades but this is the first time a cache of vehicles looked like their engines exploded.
The report identified that the five vehicles were all different types, a Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX80, Ford Expedition and Jeep Gladiator. The Ford Expedition did have a recall on it for the connections to the battery, indicating that fires have been caused by the problem. The car had not been taken in for repairs, sources told the Current. It’s unclear if that single car caused the fire or if each of the cars simultaneously caught fire.
The front of the white Ford Expedition and the one across from it looks to be considerably more damaged than the other cars.
“At approximately 5:22 am Airport shift staff observed an active fire in the rental car overflow area through the Airport’s Closed Circuit Television System,” the airport said in a statement. “Staff activated the Alert system and responded to the fire in Airport-3, where they were met by responding units from Nantucket Fire Department and Nantucket Police Department. Combined fire resources responded and contained the fire. Several vehicles were damaged. The Airport is currently coordinating with rental car agencies and agency partners to ensure scene safety. There is no longer an active fire at this time: the Airport is open, and aeronautical operations are not affected.”
‘Beyond Horrific’: Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Producer Is an Out Gay Man Helping ‘Ramp Up’ Hate Says LGBTQ Journalist
Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, whose nightly show frequently has the largest reach of any on cable news, regularly attacks the LGBTQ community with fear-mongering and hate-filled segments about gay people, transgender people, “groomers” and the latest target: “drag queen story hours.”
His senior executive producer, who oversees Carlson’s media empire at Fox News, is a married, out, gay man named Justin Wells, according to veteran journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, who is calling it “beyond horrific to think a gay man has helped to shape and widely disseminate a message of hate against LGBTQ people.”
Last week, in the wake of the horrific anti-LGBTQ hate crime mass shooting Carlson hosted a guest, the head of the so-called “Gays Against Groomers,” who told Fox News viewers the attack on LGBTQ people at a gay bar in Colorado Springs was “predictable” and warned that these hate crime massacres will continue, “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care.
Tucker Carlson guest: Shootings like the Club Q shooting are going to keep happening “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care. pic.twitter.com/4ajSonqlug
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 23, 2022
Carlson has repeatedly hosted Jaimee Mitchell, the Gays Against Groomers founder who fear mongers against LGBTQ people, with the apparent consent of Wells, who “helped promulgate the kind of hate that leads to violence,” says Signorile.
“It’s unlikely that any narrative would get broadcast by Tucker without significant buy-in from Justin,” Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of media watchdog Media Matters, told Signorile.
Indeed, referring to the Colorado Springs mass shooting massacre, Signorile noted it is “the same kind of nightclub at which Wells, in years past, danced the night away in Miami Beach and elsewhere, liberating himself from the world outside and surely never imagining he’d be shot dead.”
“Now he’s aided the extremists who deny that sense of safety and liberation to every future generation of queer people,” says Signorile, explaining that “Wells runs the entire Tucker Carlson operation, and is responsible for imprinting the Tucker Carlson brand, which is all about emboldening white heterosexual male grievance, furthering the racist conspiracy of ‘replacement theory’ and pushing an increasingly virulent anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
One of Carlson’s frequent LGBTQ targets is Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who he has called an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” as Mediaite reported.
“And as Carlson further pushed white nationalism, attacked transgender people and embraced Hungary’s authoritarian leader Victor Orban,” Signorile reports, “Wells, in 2021, was named a Vice President at Fox News, in charge of all Carlson product that airs on Fox News TV as well as on Fox’s streaming network, Fox Nation.”
Signorile says, “it’s quite stunning that Wells would work for Carlson, who has a well-known history of visceral homophobia. That’s something that came to light again last year when it became known that Carlson had offered a tribute to Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco supervisor and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, in his college yearbook back in 1991, as well as to the late vociferously anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who whipped up homophobia during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.”
“I wrote about those jarring revelations when they surfaced last year,” he continues, “as well as about what I dubbed Carlson’s ‘pathological obsession with homosexuality’ throughout his career. Carlson has expressed revulsion at homosexuality, and in one incident he reveled in a violent response. In a TV interview in 2007 he described having smashed a man’s head ‘against the stall’ in a public rest room, after the man ‘bothered’ him.”
“Wells, as a gay man, only emboldens Carlson further,” Signorile concludes. “He gives him permission to launch the ugly attacks and helps Carlson validate, for himself (and likely for executives at Fox News), the vitriol he espouses. That makes Justin Wells’ presence as the powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson all the more newsworthy. And all the more dangerous.”
Signorile notes that his reporting is not an outing.
“This story is not, however, about a warped closet case, tormented by self-loathing, hiding his true self while bashing those like him. And thus, this story is not an outing, which involves exposing someone who covers up their sexual orientation while publicly presenting as heterosexual — though it certainly may be a startling revelation to a great many. It is, rather, about connecting the dots regarding a reality that seems to have been hiding in plain sight.”
You can read Signorile’s entire report on his Substack newsletter.
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