Devin Nunes Drops One Ridiculous Lawsuit, Only To File Another One

from the featuring-rico! dept

A month ago we wrote about Devin Nunes' third lawsuit against his critics over their speech, and noted that he was promising in the press that more lawsuits were coming. We noted that the latest lawsuit was slightly odd in that he actually filed it in California, rather than Virginia (as with his first two lawsuits), and in California he could face real anti-SLAPP penalties (i.e., paying the other side's legal fees). Perhaps that's why that lawsuit was not actually filed by Nunes himself, but rather his campaign. If it got tossed out via anti-SLAPP, then suckers who donated to his campaign would foot the bill, rather than Nunes directly himself. Either way, we'll likely never find out because as suddenly as that case was filed, it's now been dismissed by Nunes. Amusingly, Nunes' lawyer is claiming victory:

“We gathered further evidence which supports the plaintiff’s overriding concerns that dark money is being used to influence our elections,” Kapetan said. “Given the new evidence recently discovered, the Nunes campaign committee voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit and the allegations underlining the lawsuit will be incorporated in a (racketeering) lawsuit filed in Virginia today.”

And that brings us to the new lawsuit that Nunes filed on Wednesday. It's a $10 million racketeering (RICO) case against Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson along with the Campaign for Accountability. You may recall them from such past news as the infamous "Steele Dossier." Nunes has spent months insisting (incorrectly) that the Steele Dossier is some evidence of some massive overreach by US law enforcement or the intelligence community (leaving aside that under the previous administration Nunes was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for increased surveillance powers of the intelligence community) to spy on Americans. Yet when those powers may have been used (well within the law) to do surveillance on his friends, suddenly he's clutching pearls?

Anyway, the new lawsuit is a real piece of work. It's alleging racketeering by GPS Fusion and the Campaign for Accountability. As Ken "Popehat" White famously notes, IT'S NOT RICO, DAMMIT, and this case is no exception.

The Defendants are persons associated in fact (a RICO enterprise) who engage in interstate commerce by the use of one or more instrumentalities, including, but not limited to, the Internet, computers, telephones, mails and facsimile. In 2018, the Defendants received income derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity and have used or invested such income, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or operation of an enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate commerce. Through a pattern of racketeering activity, involving acts of wire fraud in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and acts of obstruction of justice in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503(a), 1512(b), 1512(d) and 1513(e), the Defendants have maintained, directly or indirectly, an interest in or control of an enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate commerce. While associated with such enterprise, the Defendants conducted or participated, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity. Between 2018 and the present, the Defendants have engaged in activity that is prohibited by Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(a), 1962(b), and 1962(c).

The Defendants’ ongoing and continuous racketeering activities are part of a joint and systematic effort to intimidate, harass, threaten, influence, interfere with, impede, and ultimately to derail Plaintiff’s congressional investigation into Russian intermeddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. In furtherance of their conspiracy, the Defendants, acting in concert and with others, filed fraudulent and retaliatory “ethics” complaints against Plaintiff that were solely designed to harass and intimidate Plaintiff, to undermine his Russia investigation, and to protect Simpson, Fusion GPS and others from criminal referrals.

Plaintiff was injured in his business, property and reputation by Defendants’ racketeering activity and tortious misconduct. Plaintiff brings this action (a) to recover money damages for injuries caused by the Defendants’ racketeering activity, (b) for disgorgement of the ill-gotten gains and fruits of Defendants’ unlawful enterprise, (c) to impose reasonable restrictions on Defendants’ future activities, including Defendants’ use of fraudulent opposition research and fraudulent “ethics” complaints to intimidate members of Congress and other law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties, (d) to enjoin the Defendants from committing wire fraud and from obstructing justice, and (e) to order the dissolution or reorganization of Fusion GPS and the CfA so as to prevent or restrain the Defendants from committing fraud, lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Congress and Senate, obstructing justice, and violating Title 18 U.S.C. § 1962 in the future.

The details are basically that Nunes thinks that political research against him and corresponding ethics complaints are racketeering. That is not how any of this works. Indeed, if opposition research and filing ethics complaints is racketeering, basically every politician might be guilty of racketeering.

As noted by Nunes' lawyer, it is true that this new lawsuit includes some overlap with the California lawsuit that was just dropped -- mainly about his anger at some of his critics filing perfectly legal FOIA requests for Nunes' wife's emails (Nunes' real complaint here seems to be with how FOIA works for state employees, but to him it's all RICO):

Upon information and belief, Fusion GPS and/or CfA directed Seeley to make a request under the California Public Records Act (“PRA”) for emails received by Plaintiff’s wife, Elizabeth, an elementary school teacher. Seeley’s request targeting Plaintiff’s wife ended up costing the Tulare County Office of Education thousands of dollars in unnecessary cost and expense. Seeley published Elizabeth Nunes’ emails online and included the names and email addresses of numerous school administrators and teachers, resulting in extensive harassment of these innocent, hard-working citizens of Tulare County, including hateful accusations that they teach bigotry and racism. [https://www.scribd.com/user/399236302/Michael-Seeley]. In fact, the school was so concerned about security problems resulting from this situation that it adopted enhanced security measures.

As we stated when the original lawsuit was filed, you can certainly understand why this is annoying and frustrating, but it's a perfectly legal use of FOIA until the laws are changed.

Like the previous lawsuits, this one has little likelihood of going anywhere. Doing opposition research and filing ethics complaints with Congress is not racketeering in any sense of the law. But, of course, once again we have a lawsuit in Virginia over protected speech activity. It's too bad Virginia has a relatively weak anti-SLAPP law.

Filed Under: anti-slapp, devin nunes, glenn simpson, rackeering, rico, slapp, steele dossier, virginia
Companies: campaign for accountability, gps fusion


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  • icon
    Miles (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:07am

    Rats, no picture of a human centipede in this lawsuit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:25am

    I thought RICO was a criminal complaint, not a civil action. Is he bringing this as a law enforcement official?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:26am

    The actions of a man who knows he's probably not getting re-elected and wants to raise his profile enough to get a fox news gig by going after Trump's enemies, hoping to file suits as fishing expeditions in the hopes of finding something in discovery that he can build a media career out of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:38am

      Re: wow

      That’s.....really pathetic...
      I mean I ever got A political career my ass retires and I spend the rest of my days watching tv and shooing away reporters.

      That guy just needs drama in his life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      What makes you think he's probably not getting reelected?

      He may be in California, but he's in a red district. Last year he won reelection by 5 points, and that was a Democratic wave year; there's likely to be greater Republican turnout in '20.

      Now, he might not get reelected in '22, because districts are going to be redrawn following the 2020 census. But I think he's got a pretty good chance of getting reelected in '20. Not a guarantee, of course, but good odds.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2019 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      Venture capital must be simply booming for this sort of enterprise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:28am

    Run away coward, run away

    “Given the new evidence recently discovered, the Nunes campaign committee voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit and the allegations underlining the lawsuit will be incorporated in a (racketeering) lawsuit filed in Virginia today.”

    ... I'm sorry, but did he just admit that the lawsuit was merely a means to get information, and when they got it they bailed and ran before the other side could nail them to the wall for what a joke it was?

    The virginaia judge(s) need to punt all these crank lawsuits right back to california where they belong, and where the defendants can make Nunes actually pay for using the courts for PR stunts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DocGerbil100, 5 Sep 2019 @ 8:10am

    "Intermeddling"? What a very interesting term to use. I'm not sure it means what they think it means, though...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Haggie, 5 Sep 2019 @ 8:28am

    How about a lawsuit against Nunes for representing California's 22nd district but living and running a business in Iowa?

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a23471864/devin-nunes-family-farm-iowa-california/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 8:59am

    Isn'tn Devin Nunes latin for dumbass lawsuits?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 9:04am

    One step closer to "vexatious litigant" status.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 9:06am

    Preemptive reminder: Calling the Steele dossier "fake" is predicated upon total ignorance about basic investigative process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Bub, 5 Sep 2019 @ 10:08am

    Civil RICO exists because often fits.

    Innocuous comment for leader...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Bub, 5 Sep 2019 @ 10:09am

    Civil RICO exists because often fits.

    Civil RICO exists because often fits.

    First, I point out that Poophat is STRONG on "intellectual property", seems to have effectively disabled copy-paste with HTML tricks. That's not what the Internet is all about, right? He makes it difficult to capture text. I saved the page, then used plain text editor. An HTML stripper would be handy, IF you could still find any. Also, Poophat believes that just to display a LITTLE bit of snarky contentious text requires 4.3 MEGABYTES of OTHER files, including javascript to identify and track. -- That's after past the IP address filtering which is easy with TOR Browser, just select new circuit for the site.

    Anyhoo, after STUPID question / answer condescension that convinces me that of all my prior bias just based on STUPID name was even more right than guessed, Poophat at last to relevant:

    So what would be a righteous civil RICO claim, as opposed to all the bogus ones?

    Let me answer that by telling you the elements of civil RICO - that is, the list of things a plaintiff would have to prove to win a RICO case. To win, a plaintiff would have to prove (1) conduct, (2) of an enterprise, (3) through a pattern, (4) of racketeering activity called "predicate acts," (5) causing injury to the plaintiff's "business or property."

    I've read the whole complaint, find those ALL present.

    Don't bother to gainsay: what you say doesn't matter. We'll see how goes in court. At some point (as with Sarah Palin's suit re-instated), plaintiffs ARE entitled to take their case to a jury.

    By the way, in complaint is DEMAND for jury trial. That's the way to state it to a judge, else they can trick you. Also mentions common law, yet again in way that Masnick claims isn't accurate, doesn't rely on prior court decisions, only the ancient customs of We The People.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Bub, 5 Sep 2019 @ 10:11am

      Re: Civil RICO exists because often fits.

      Before the "inncuous" leader was blocked a dozen times! You seem to be trying some new tactic.

      No idea why you try to protect the site more now that it's fading. Sheesh.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 10:33am

      Re: Civil RICO exists because often fits.

      You don't know what common law is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 5:41pm

      Re:

      Poophat

      Ken White's smackdown of Prenda Law still leaving that gaping hole in your heart, eh blue boy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 11:40pm

      Re: Civil RICO exists because often fits.

      Also mentions common law, yet again in way that Masnick claims isn't accurate, doesn't rely on prior court decisions, only the ancient customs of We The People.

      Ah, so we learn a bit more about what you mean by "common law".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 11:43pm

      Re: Civil RICO exists because often fits.

      First, I point out that Poophat is STRONG on "intellectual property", seems to have effectively disabled copy-paste with HTML tricks. That's not what the Internet is all about, right? He makes it difficult to capture text.

      I have no problem doing copy-paste at his site. Maybe something is wrong with your browser? After all, it wasn't displaying horizontal rules for you her on TD but was for everyone else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 11:45pm

        Re: Re:

        You'd think that someone who runs multiple TOR-generated IP addresses just to troll a blog wouldn't be stumped by this sort of Javascript.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 3:02pm

    Ye gods, just when I thought Nunes had taken stupidity to a new level he pops up again and raises the stupid bar up another couple of notches.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    norahc (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 4:12pm

    Ye gods, just when I thought Nunes had taken stupidity to a new level he pops up again and raises the stupid bar up another couple of notches.

    Well, since he is an elected official, I'm sure we haven't seen the limits of his stupidity yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 7:58am

    Has Devin Nunes Cow weighed in on this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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