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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Seven Florida Republicans File Slew of Anti-LGBTQ Bills
Seven Florida Republican lawmakers have filed four bills attacking the LGBTQ community.
NBC News reports “the bills would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender children, repeal municipal and county ordinances protecting LGBTQ workers, and legalize so-called gay conversion therapy in places that had banned the medically debunked practice.”
Conversion therapy has been compared to torture by those who have been victims of it, and states have been banning the practice given its ties to suicide and attempted suicide.
The lawmakers are Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Sen. Dennis Baxley, Rep. Bob Rommel, Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Michael Grant, Sen. Keith Perry, and Rep. Byron Donalds (images above, in order of NBC’s reporting.) (NCRM has added links to their Twitter accounts.)
Orlando Weekly’s Solomon Gustavo reports on House Bill 136, filed by Sabatini and Baxley, “which would make it a second-degree felony for health care practitioners to administer treatment for transitioning or changing a child’s sex.”
Elizabeth Warren Calls for Investigation Into Legality of Trump Tipping Off Mar-a-Lago Guests to Soleimani’s Killing
Elizabeth Warren is calling for financial regulatory agencies to investigate whether President Trump broke the law when he told guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort to expect something “big” in response to Iran’s killing of an American contractor in Iraq, The Daily Beast reports.
“Individuals who were guests at President Trump’s resort may have obtained confidential market-moving information,” a letter Warren sent to agencies read. “These private individuals … would have had the opportunity to obtain significant profits simply by being guests or members at President Trump’s private resort.”
Read the full report over at The Daily Beast.
Rupert Murdoch’s Son Rips Fox News for Pushing Falsehoods About Australian Wildfires
Rupert Murdoch’s younger son and his wife launched an attack on News Corporation for promoting conspiracy theories about Australia’s devastating wildfires.
Columnists and broadcasters from News Corp Australia — which dominates the country’s media — have questioned climate change’s role in the fires and downplayed the devastation, and James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn condemned the family business, reported The Daily Beast.
“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” said a spokesperson for the couple. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”
James Murdoch is CEO of the investment firm Lupa Systems but sits on the board of News Corp, which publishes more than 140 newspapers in Australia, and his brother Lachlan runs the Fox News Channel in the U.S.
“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual,” said a longtime News Corp executive. “It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change. The majority of people who work here agree with James. We are hoping this may be the tipping point.”
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