Craigslist Goes On The Offensive: Sues South Carolina's Henry McMaster

from the go-for-it dept

It appears that Craigslist has realized, in responding to all those grandstanding Attorneys General, that it’s better to take an offensive position than to continue with its defensive strategy. First, it pointed out how misguided South Carolina’s Henry McMaster was in threatening to charge Craigslist’s management with criminal prosecution, and then it demanded an apology. With no apology forthcoming, Craigslist has sued Henry McMaster seeking declaratory relief that its actions do not violate the law. McMaster has continued to push forward with his plans to file a lawsuit, claiming that Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster is “the #1 defendant.” Craigslist, in response, points out that Craigslist:

  • is operating in full compliance with all applicable laws
  • has earned a reputation for being unusually responsive to requests from law enforcement
  • has eliminated its “erotic services” category for all US cities
  • has adopted screening measures far stricter than those Mr McMaster himself personally endorsed with his signature just 6 months ago
  • has far fewer and far tamer adult service ads than many mainstream print and online venues operating in South Carolina
  • has made its representatives available to hear Mr McMaster’s concerns in person
  • has politely asked Mr McMaster to retract and apologize for his unreasonable threats

So, in response, Craigslist has filed its lawsuit to have a court declare that the company is not violating any laws, and that McMaster has no case. This is a good move, and you would have hoped it would quiet down McMaster, but he’s actually (no, seriously) using this to claim victory. In a statement on his website McMaster claims:

The defensive legal action craigslist has taken against the solicitors and my office is good news. It shows that craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time…. Unfortunately, we had to inform them of possible state criminal violations concerning their past practices to produce a serious response. We trust they will now adhere to the higher standards they have promised. This office and the law enforcement agencies of South Carolina will continue to monitor the site to make certain that our laws are respected.

That’s just blatant outright lying now. Craigslist made those changes last week, and at the time McMaster’s response was: “That response doesn’t work” and claimed it was proceeding with plans to punish Craigslist management with jail time. Since then, Craigslist has made no other change, other than to sue McMaster. To suddenly claim that it’s made a new change and is taking the matter seriously, when the only change is suing McMaster, is quite the delusional response. I have no idea how likely it is that McMaster will win his current race for the Governor’s spot in South Carolina — but so far the man has been an embarrassment to the state.

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Comments on “Craigslist Goes On The Offensive: Sues South Carolina's Henry McMaster”

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MiamiMark (profile) says:

Political Action

What citizen groups (if any) work to respond to things like this? If McMaster is doing this for political reasons, what do we do about it if we don’t like it? If he was for gun control, people that didn’t like it would go to the NRA, and they would let him know that he was going to have problems in the next election. Similarly, I know who to go to when someone steps on Vets… So who is organizing people against Internet Idiocy?

I ask because, I’m guessing that, like every other post on this subject, a bunch of people are going to complain about what a fool he is, but that really doesn’t change much or stop him from being a fool (or at least an elected fool).

MiamiMark (profile) says:

Re: Re: Political Action

I guess that’s my question. Is there anybody organizing at the grass-root level people like those that are on this site…. if there is such an organization, then it could give people an outlet beyond writing a letter to a Congressional staffer… for example to target campaigns…. a few people showing up at political rallies with literature and cogent arguments against the campaign is something that politicians really don’t like. If there isn’t such a group, maybe it’s time to start one, as these issues aren’t going away and the Internet is only going to grow in influence on people’s daily lives. EFF is the closest thing I know to this, but I consider it to be more of a think-tank/lobbying effort than a grass roots organization.

David T says:

Abuse of Power?

Are there laws that prohibit people in office to use their power for personal gain? It seems like McMaster is using his position as AG, not to protect the people, but to promote a specific political agenda (specifically, his own).

If it is illegal, perhaps McMaster should be “the #1 defendant.”

Anonymous Coward says:

I am glad CL finally is growing a pair

They shoudl have just shut down in that state. Then the politico’s woudl have capitulated when all those angry people wantign their free stuff, promotoe their busienss, find their next swinging partner, get rid of their junk went to CL and saw a “sorry your AG is an idiot, so we will keep this state shut down until you vote in a new one.”

yes says:

Re: I am glad CL finally is growing a pair

This is the truth. Unfortunately, businesses (as Craigslist ultimately is) are in the business of doing business, not politics. While such a move on their part would probably be devastating to the AG, it wouldn’t make sense from a business perspective.

If only the politicians refrained from interfering with business in the same way…could have something to do with the incentives being backwards?

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re:


What other sports idioms do you have for us?

How about “It’s pure offense that wins championships”?

Or “In professional football, you should always establish your passing game first, THEN run the ball”?

Or for baseball, “In the post season, it all comes down to home runs”.

I know this is a tech site, but come on.

nasch says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve never heard anybody actually say the best offense is a good defense, but 1) basically it’s not far off and 2) certainly the reverse is not true. Good defense forces turnovers, which lead to easy offense. Good offense, on the other hand, well I guess it helps your defense some. Not making turnovers, and not giving up rebounds (especially long rebounds) limits the amount of transition defense you have to play. But otherwise, the best defense is certainly not a good offense.

Julie says:

Craigslist is FREE so it has to go!

I would think that many, or most, print media (newspapers, magazines, etc. – basically anyone who charges for classified ads) have declared war on Craigslist and are using their immense power to get rid of Craigslist however they can.
This includes things like repeating “Craigslist Killer” over and over again in the headlines to drill into our brains how much evil it encourages; and trying to attack them legally where ever and however possible.
Don’t fool yourselves by thinking that they’re above that, or they don’t work together if it benefits them, or that they don’t have the power/money to pull this off. This is a subtle war that will probably drag out for awhile – an attack here, negative publicity there, with plenty of costly legal wrangling to try to wear Craigslist down and eventually break them. Glad to see Craigslist fighting back though, and not just remaining on the defensive.

Thank you Henry says:

Talk about "freak flag"

Wow, so now it wasn’t him it was the other prosecutors of the state and his “office”.
The sad news is this man is responsible for other travesty’s of justice involving people in this state. Malicious & vindictive prosecutions with no rational or realistic reasoning in the decision making process.
The only case Henry tried as AG he lost and lost big time. He made a HUGE deal out of the case, imagine that. Went on national television and talked about it. After the jury came back with a NOT GUILTY McMaster went on O’Reilly’s show trashing the jury and the system in general. It was everyone elses fault certainly not that he might have tunnel vision when it comes to facts of a case or that he totally sucks as a prosecutor.
It is nice to finally see that other people outside the boundaries of SC see the insanity of Henry Mcmaster.
Wonder what baggage he has in that closet of his.

Adam says:


Dont you people understand ?

Jim Buckshmaster is a silly programmer who thinks hi is protected by the constitution law, craigslist is platform of death, lots of people die using craigslist, they dont gave a shit, they charge $5 for erotic section add indicating that money will be given to charity’s, ( tax deductible )

How i have learned about craigslsit is from NEWS, killings, or some other drama, i want justice for JIM ( LOX)

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