Judge al­lows Nunes to sue Twit­ter over par­ody ac­counts,

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY KATE IRBY [email protected]­clatchy.com Kate Irby: 202-383-6071, @KateIrby

Rep. Devin Nunes can sue so­cial me­dia gi­ant Twit­ter in Vir­ginia, a judge ruled this week when he re­jected the San Fran­cisco com­pany’s ar­gu­ment that the Cal­i­for­nia con­gress­man should not be able to pur­sue a law­suit against it in the south­ern state.

Judge John Mar­shall de­nied Twit­ter’s mo­tion to dis­miss the law­suit from the Hen­rico County Cir­cuit Court on Wed­nes­day, as first re­ported by the Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch. One of the de­fen­dants Nunes is su­ing in the case is a former Vir­ginia res­i­dent.

“The plain­tiff came from Cal­i­for­nia to Vir­ginia to pur­sue claims that arose in Vir­ginia against de­fen­dants who were in Vir­ginia,” Mar­shall’s let­ter says, ac­cord­ing to the Times-Dis­patch. “The causes of ac­tion in this case are in­ter­de­pen­dent and for the other rea­sons in this opin­ion the court will not dis­miss the ac­tion against Twit­ter” on claims of in­con­ve­nience.

The law­suit was the first of five Nunes, R-Tu­lare, filed this year al­leg­ing that var­i­ous groups con­spired against him while he was chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Committee.

In the Twit­ter case, filed in March, Nunes al­leges the so­cial me­dia com­pany en­abled Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Liz Mair and anony­mous writ­ers be­hind two par­ody so­cial me­dia ac­counts known as Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom to de­fame him and dam­age his 2018 re-elec­tion bid against Demo­crat An­drew Janz.

Nunes won his seat in by about five per­cent­age points, his nar­row­est mar­gin of vic­tory for the district in the nearly two decades he’s been in Con­gress. Janz raised $9.2 mil­lion try­ing to un­seat him, with do­na­tions pro­pelled by Nunes’ renown as one of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top al­lies in Con­gress.

Twit­ter and Mair moved to dis­miss the law­suit, ar­gu­ing that a Cal­i­for­ni­abased com­pany should be sued by a Cal­i­for­nia con­gress­man in Cal­i­for­nia, not in Vir­ginia.

Af­ter a dismissal hear­ing in Au­gust, Mar­shall asked Twit­ter to pro­vide the iden­ti­ties and ad­dresses of the two par­ody ac­counts un­der court seal, as well as the num­ber of Twit­ter users and pay­ing ad­ver­tis­ers lo­cated in Vir­ginia.

Twit­ter re­fused to pro­vide the iden­ti­ties of the ac­counts but said nei­ther au­thor had ever lived or worked in Vir­ginia, and no tweets were sent from Vir­ginia.

Mair lived and worked in Vir­ginia when the law­suit was filed. She has since moved to Con­necti­cut.

Nunes has filed two other law­suits in Vir­ginia. Mar­shall’s de­ci­sion means Nunes’ at­tor­ney, Steven Biss, can con­tinue his re­quests for dis­cov­ery against the four de­fen­dants. Those re­quests have been ex­ten­sive, in­clud­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion of any time a Twit­ter em­ployee has been in Vir­ginia and Mair’s tax re­turns and client lists for the past few years.

Mair’s at­tor­neys have told Mc­Clatchy they plan to seek an­other dismissal of the law­suit based on the claims be­ing friv­o­lous.

This isn’t the only law­suit where the de­fen­dants Nunes is su­ing have ar­gued to dis­miss the case based on ju­ris­dic­tion.

Nunes in Virig­nia is also su­ing Mc­Clatchy, the par­ent com­pany of the Fresno Bee. He al­leges that a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about an em­ployee’s law­suit against a com­pany in which Nunes has a lim­ited part­ner­ship de­famed him.

Sacra­mento-based Mc­Clatchy has filed a mo­tion to dis­miss the case, ar­gu­ing that Nunes has no grounds to sue the Cal­i­for­nia news­pa­per com­pany in Vir­ginia. Mair is also a de­fen­dant in that law­suit.

Nunes is su­ing po­lit­i­cal re­search com­pany Fu­sion GPS and pro­gres­sive group Cam­paign for Ac­count­abil­ity. Fu­sion GPS is the firm that in 2016 cre­ated what is known as a “dossier” of in­for­ma­tion al­leg­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had ques­tion­able ties to Rus­sia. Nei­ther Fu­sion GPS nor the ad­vo­cacy group is based in Vir­ginia.

In the most re­cent law­suit, Nunes al­leges in an Iowa court that jour­nal­ist Ryan Lizza and Esquire mag­a­zine de­famed Nunes in a 2018 story about Nunes’ fam­ily re­lo­cat­ing its dairy op­er­a­tions to Iowa.

Nunes filed and dropped one more law­suit in Cal­i­for­nia in which he at­tempted to sue a re­tired Tu­lare County farmer and sev­eral Demo­cratic ac­tivists who in 2018 con­tested Nunes’ de­scrip­tion of him­self as a farmer on bal­lots. Nunes, who grew up in a dairy fam­ily, won the chal­lenge and was al­lowed to de­scribe him­self as a con­gress­man and farmer.

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