Judge Deals Blow To Devin Nunes In Defamation Case Over Transparency

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Devin Nunes has been strangely quiet ever since Donald Trump left office, but the California representative has been busy following his boss down the rabbit lawsuit-revenge hole.

Nunes has been collecting a list of anyone he believes criticized him and slapped a lawsuit on them. Seriously. He filed a total of 10 lawsuits against various “media companies, activists and the investigative research firm behind the Steele Dossier.”  The Fresno Bee wrote.

So, what was his defense? He claimed they “defamed him,” when they allegedly “conspired against his re-election and harmed his reputation.”

In 2018, his family took a journalist and magazine to court just because they did not like the story “about their farm,” The Fresno Bee wrote. But the judge had some harsh words for them. He wanted to know who financed that lawsuit. Good question.

Judge Mark Roberts of Iowa’s Northern District Court ordered the family to tell how they have been financing this lawsuit. Specifically, who paid for the pre-litigation secret efforts. Then, Judge Roberts will decide who will receive that information if anyone. The Fresno Bee explained:

‘The family filed the lawsuit against Lizza and Hearst over a story published in its magazine Esquire that suggested the Nunes’ farm, NuStar Farms, employed undocumented immigrants. They are seeking $20 million in damages.’

Also, the judge was interested in whether the representative was involved in this case.

And by the way, who has been financing the representative’s lawsuits? A nonpartisan watchdog nonprofit file an ethics complaint against Nunes. At this point, there was no information about where that complaint is. The Office of Congressional Ethics handled them:

‘Throughout proceedings, the family has denied coordinating with the congressman, but has not denied receiving financial support for the litigation. [He] said that disclosing who was funding the suit would provide clarity on whether the family has actually coordinated with the congressman.’

Roberts wrote:

‘Anthony Nunes III’s lack of knowledge about who is paying the attorneys prosecuting this action raises legitimate concern about not only who may be in charge of the lawsuit, but also whether Plaintiffs are the still the real parties in interest.’

Roberts continued:

‘These circumstances may not ultimately turn out to be “untoward,” but they are certainly unusual. The Nunes family is represented by lawyers Steven Biss, who represents the congressman in almost all of his defamation lawsuits, and William McGinn.’

The companies Nunes sued included:

‘Twitter; McClatchy, the parent company of The Fresno Bee; The Washington Post; and CNN.’

Last year a federal judge dismissed the Iowa Farm article did not meet the requirements for defamation:

‘A federal judge last year dismissed Nunes’ lawsuit against Lizza and Hearst, finding the Iowa farm story did not defame him. An appeals court reopened part of the case last month over a tweet Lizza sent hyperlinking to his story after Nunes had sued. Lizza and Hearst’s attorneys are asking the court to reconsider its ruling.’

Judge Roberts ruled that by November 2, the Nunes’ family had to give him the information about who funded the suit:

‘If, after my in camera review, no reason appears to reconsider my decision, I anticipate entering a supplemental order requiring their production to Defendants consistent with the protective order in place.’

Except for paying a local attorney Joe Feller $500 to produce financial records, Nunes’ family appeared to know little about who financed the suit, according to The techdirt publication.

Lawyers for the journalist Ryan Lizza and the magazine opined that “wealthy private donors” could be financing the suits in an effort to protect Nunes from the media.


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