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Fighting Defamation Aimed at Election Workers

Overview

Protect Democracy, through its Law for Truth project, represents Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss in two landmark defamation lawsuits. Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss served as election workers in Fulton County, Georgia during the 2020 election. False claims that they engaged in ballot fraud in that capacity have caused them to suffer extensive harassment and threats of physical violence.

The first suit names The Gateway Pundit, a website which the complaint calls “among the leading purveyors of false information in the United States.” Law for Truth has undertaken this representation in partnership with the law firms DuBose Miller LLC, Dowd Bennett LLP, and Kastorf Law, LLC and the Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic. The Gateway Pundit, along with its founding editor Jim Hoft, and contributor Joe Hoft, knowingly disseminated blatantly false stories claiming that Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss were involved in a conspiracy to commit election fraud, and continued to publish these untruths long after they were proven to be false. 

The second suit originally named Herring Networks, Inc., which owns and operates One America News Network (OAN), OAN CEO Robert Herring, OAN President Charles Herring, OAN staffer Chanel Rion, and frequent OAN guest Rudolph Giuliani. On April 19, 2022, our clients and the OAN defendants resolved the claims against those defendants to the mutual satisfaction of the parties through a fair and reasonable settlement. On May 10, 2022, OAN defendants were removed from the litigation. Following the settlement, the amended complaint now alleges that Rudolph Giuliani knowingly and repeatedly disseminated false information about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss and their work for the County on election night. In this suit, Law for Truth represents Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, in partnership with the law firms Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, DuBose Miller LLC, and Kastorf Law, LLC.

The lies published about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss caused them to be subjected to an onslaught of violent, racist threats and harassment. In January 2021, Ms. Freeman, at the recommendation of the FBI, fled her home and did not return for two months. Twice, strangers showed up at Ms. Moss’s grandmother’s home and attempted to invade in order to make a “citizens’ arrest.”

This campaign of lies and others like it threaten our very ability to function as a democracy.

Floyd Abrams, noted First Amendment advocate, said:

These are the sorts of lawsuits libel law was created to permit. The complaints depict terribly wronged plaintiffs suing to restore their grievously harmed reputations from statements made with knowledge of their falsity.  Not only does the First Amendment provide no protection for such statements, but this is precisely the situation in which libel litigation is most needed.

Brittany Williams, Counsel at Protect Democracy, said of the Gateway Pundit lawsuit: 

Lies like those that The Gateway Pundit knowingly told about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss cannot be divorced from the devastation they leave behind—both for the targeted individuals and for our democracy itself. These kinds of lies, told with impunity, now pollute the information ecosystem in America and threaten the foundations of our system of government. And they are especially pernicious when they aim to intimidate the nonpartisan election officials who are essential to conducting free and fair elections. Those who purposely promote these lies must be, and will be, held accountable.

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