Defamation

Kimberly Klacik Files Defamation Suit Against Candace Owens

The former GOP House candidate is suing The Daily Wire's Candace Owens for $20 million.

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The Baltimore Sun reports that Kimberly Klacik is suing Candace Owens for defamation and is seeking $20 million damages. The story begins:

Kimberly Klacik, a former Republican congressional candidate in Maryland, is suing conservative commentator Candace Owens for $20 million in damages over an Instagram video Owens made in June in which she alleged Klacik had committed campaign fraud, money laundering, illegally used drugs and was a "madame" of a strip club, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, alleges Klacik lost a book deal, had politicians cancel fundraising appearances with her and lost a contract with a "nationally recognized vendor," after Owens posted the video June 22. In the 44-minute Instagram live video, Owens said Klacik's charity Potential Me was illegitimate, that Klacik was a stripper at a club owned by her husband and that she misused campaign funds, according to the lawsuit. . . .

Owens . . . has not taken down the video despite multiple letters from Klacik that the allegations were false, according to the suit. . . .

In the video, Owens says she is "not an investigative journalist," and "could not confirm" any of the criminal allegations she makes against Klacik. But she went on to accuse Klacik of "money laundering, tax fraud and campaign fraud," as well as paying vendors to "move money off the books" and working to recruit strippers for a strip club Owens says Klacik's husband owns, according to the lawsuit.

Both Klacik and Owens are prominent African-American women who supported President Trump. Klacik ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020, become known for a viral campaign video on social media, and spoke at the 2020 GOP convention. Owens is a conservative commentator who used to work for Turning Point USA and now works for The Daily Wire.

Law & Crime has posted the complaint with their story on the suit.

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  1. Well, if Candace doesn’t win that lawsuit, I guess I’ll have to cancel my order on the DeSantis/Owens in 2024 bumper stickers.

    She has not struck me as the sort of person who’d level accusations of that nature without evidence, so this will be interesting to watch. I notice the account says absolutely nothing about having contacted Owens, and doesn’t give her side of the conflict.

    1. This part gives me a bit of pause as well:

      In the video, Owens says she is “not an investigative journalist,” and “could not confirm” any of the criminal allegations she makes against Klacik.

      “I mean, I totally have no idea if any of this is true at all, BUT….” doesn’t strike me as comfortably distant from reckless disregard of the truth.

      1. Suppose she had, and published, pointers to other articles. Would she then be covered? Assume “journalists” vs. other rumour forwarding pseudo-bots.

        1. Ms. Klacik is, for defamation purposes, a public figure. This would qualify as a matter of public concern. So I’d assume so. I don’t see this lawsuit succeeding unless Miss Owens was very foolish indeed.

          1. Indeed. Considering that “Trump is a secret Russian agent” is our standard.

          2. OK Brett. What if it turns out that:

            1. Owens did in fact say those things about Klacik.

            2. Had no evidence to support her statements.

            3. Successfully defended herself in the lawsuit because Klacik is a public figure, etc.

            How would that affect your attitude towards Owens?

            1. Very negatively. The public figure exception may clear you legally, but not ethically.

          3. Brett Bellmore : “I don’t see this lawsuit succeeding unless Miss Owens was very foolish indeed”

            Per the account I just read, her accusations include this :

            “In the 44-minute clip, Owens accused the former candidate of running an illegitimate charity as well as “money laundering, tax fraud and campaign fraud.” Owens also reportedly accused the former candidate of soliciting strippers……”

            All of which has me confused. I thought she was supporting Donald Trump – not leveling accusations against him (however factual).

          4. Indeed, Ms. Owens has amply demonstrated a tendency to a world-class level of foolishness.

            But as you say, depends on evidence of the truth of Ms. Owens’s accusations, the nature of which should be readily available.

      2. If she’s not a journalist (by her own admission) it doesn’t have to be RECKLESS disregard. Just lain old everyday citizen type disregard.

        1. She said she is not an investigative journalist. She did not say she is not a journalist. But regardless, journalists have no greater claim to freedom of speech than the rest of us.

        2. And what is your authority for that proposition?

        3. There is no legal difference between journalists and “everyday citizens” in terms of the defamation standard. The differences turn on the status of the putative victim, not the speaker.

        4. If she’s not a journalist (by her own admission) it doesn’t have to be RECKLESS disregard. Just lain old everyday citizen type disregard.

          That’s just wrong. Journalists don’t have different rules from the rest of us. They have no special status in the constitution or the law. NY Times v Sullivan gives the exact same protection to anyone who makes allegations about a public figure on a matter of public concern.

      3. “The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, alleges Klacik lost a book deal, had politicians cancel fundraising appearances with her and lost a contract with a “nationally recognized vendor,” after Owens posted the video June 22. In the 44-minute Instagram live video, Owens said Klacik’s charity Potential Me was illegitimate, that Klacik was a stripper at a club owned by her husband and that she misused campaign funds, according to the lawsuit. . . ”

        Real damage. Sued wrong people. Sue the people causing the damage. To deter.

        1. I would like to contact the plaintiff lawyer about adding defendants.

          1. “Hello, I’m an authoritarian nut, can we discuss my plan to summarily execute thousands of my fellow Americans as traitors? Also, did you know ALL PC IS CASE???”

      4. If Owens “could not confirm” any of the criminal allegations, does this mean that she tried and failed, or that she couldn’t because she is “not an investigative journalist”, and therefore doesn’t know how to do it?

        This seems like a simple straightforward catfight more than anything else.

    2. “She has not struck me as the sort of person who’d level accusations of that nature without evidence”

      I laughed so much I might have hernia now.

      Seriously, Brett saying a defamation defendant doesn’t strike him as leveling reckless accusations should be allowed as a kind of reverse character witness in favor of defamation plaintiffs in courts.

      1. How about saying that the news report says nothing about having contacted the defendant for their side of the story?

        You know what you’re looking at here? The plaintiff’s press release, dressed up as a news report.

        As I say, it will get interesting once we’re hearing from both sides.

        1. The plaintiff’s pleading suffices to withstand a motion to dismiss.

          1. Yes, I would certainly agree to that much.

            The news accounts which evince no effort to get Owens’ side of the matter, OTOH, are journalistic malpractice. Albeit a very common form of such malpractice. Taking somebody’s press release, replacing a few words, and releasing it as a news report, is a very easy way for lazy reporters to generate content.

            Even a line at the end saying, “Miss Owens has not responded to our efforts to contact her.” would have made me happier about the report.

            Checking her various feeds, it appears she’s smart enough to let her counsel speak for her on this matter, so I don’t know what her defense will be. Proof of having a reasonable basis for thinking the claims true? An abject public apology?

            I’m merely pointing out this is just one side of the story, and none of the news accounts I’ve seen demonstrate any effort to have gotten the other side.

            1. “Even a line at the end saying, “Miss Owens has not responded to our efforts to contact her.” would have made me happier about the report. ”

              From the source.
              “Representatives for Owens did not respond to requests for comment Monday.”

              See what I mean.

              1. I’d read the news account linked at the bottom. Apparently the Baltimore Sun story is better in that regard.

                1. An answer for everything…

            2. Owens is apparently now an extremely prominent “conservative” figure of some sort. Whereas Klacik, as far as I can tell, was a doomed hail-mary political candidate only famous for a viral internet campaign video. So the propaganda, I mean journalism, follows a fully normal predictable political pattern here.

              1. Projection is a helluva drug.

                1. You would know, you’re an expert at it.

              2. Klacik is now appearing as a regular guest on a Baltimore talk-radio show. She seems like a decent and thoughtful person regardless of the political positions she takes.
                Will be interested to see how this turns out.

          2. Probably true. But were I defending Owens, the first thing I would want to do is watch the video in its entirety. It is possible that viewed in its full context, her accusations do not have the same meaning ascribed to them in the Complaint.

            There is a rule in federal court (and I assume in Maryland state courts) that if a complaint is based on a document, the court may review that document on a motion to dismiss, even if not attached to the Complaint. Thus in a defamation suit based on an article or video, the Court can review same.

            Whether that would get Owens out, I don’t know. But Rule No. 1 is never trust others’ paraphrasing of anything.

        2. 1. I know enough about Owens to make the opposite conclusion you did.
          2. I know enough about you that I, like I said, your endorsement supporting someone as not making reckless charges about political opponents works inversely. You’re like the conspiracy hyperbole King.
          3. Owens could have presented her side in the article, she chose not to.
          4. The accusations are from a video. She either said these things or she didn’t.

            1. Oh, look, he doesn’t understand what citations are about. Cute.

          1. Klacik and Owens are both on my side, I have more familiarity with Owens, but no reason for hostility towards Klacik.

            If Owens can’t demonstrate some basis for believing the allegations, I will be very disappointed in her. Very disappointed.

            But, again, this is a plaintiff’s press release dressed up as a news report, let’s see what the response is.

            1. You keep saying that, in fact you (recklessly, with expected irony) hurled your own charge of ‘journalistic malpractice,’ but 1. the allegations are based on a publicly available video and 2. they tried to get comment from Owens, it was not forthcoming.

              1. Yes, the allegations are based on a public video. I accept it as given that she said those things.

                That she had no basis for thinking them true, is where the rubber hits the road.

                1. The fact that Owens put out the video in response to mild twitter criticism she received from Klacik tells you everything you need to know about Candace Owens.

          2. 1. I know enough about Owens to make the opposite conclusion you did.

            Brett is also shocked to find that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.

        3. Uh, the defendant’s side of the story is the video. Is you internet broken?

          1. No me internet is not broken, is you’s?

            The allegations are about things the defendant said in the video.

            1. And the defense would be that there was a basis for them.

              1. Lol, such a defense wouldn’t be based *in the video.*

                1. Yeah, that’s why the video wouldn’t be her side of the story.

                  1. Hmm.

                    I think defamation lawsuits against public figures are almost always losers. And this one should be …

                    Except … from what I can see:

                    1. Owens put this up after a “twitter fight,” which would seem to indicate that she was trying to harm the plaintiff.

                    2. Instead of just saying that she thought this, or “Many people say,” or even making the accusations (which she could claim were just wrong and unfounded), Owens based the accusations on information she was provided by a specific individual. If that person exists, then Owens likely has nothing to worry about (even if that person is a lying liar). If that person doesn’t exist though, my initial impression is that she’s toast, especially because …

                    3. She made specific allegations of crimes. In addition to all the other stuff, the specific allegations of crimes is a general no-no (defamation per se).

                    1. Yeah, the twitter fight aspect will not help her if she lacks an actual source.

                  2. This part of the conversation is about the video

                    Longtobefree
                    August.24.2021 at 2:51 pm
                    Flag Comment Mute User

                    Uh, the defendant’s side of the story is the video. Is you internet broken?

                    1. The defendant’s side of the story is NOT the video. If he were her side of the story, you could play the video in court and she wouldn’t have to appear.

                      The video is the plaintiff’s evidence. The defendant’s case will be presented by counsel.

                    2. “The video is the plaintiff’s evidence. ”

                      Smacks forehead.

                      Yes, that was what I was arguing in this conversation the entire time.

                    3. Then why the hell did you keep saying that the video was the defendant’s side of the story? Because the defendant’s side of the story, and the plaintiff’s evidence, are radically different things.

                      Suppose Owens, hypothetically, can produce email conversations with a source on Klacik’s staff corroborating the allegations? They’d be part of the defendant’s side of the story, but not in the video.

    3. I can’t imagine what it is you find so appealing about Owens.

      What has she ever done but cash in on being a Black woman supporting Trump?

      Turning Point? The Daily Wire? I guess her RWNJ card has a lot of stamps on it.

      1. “I can’t imagine what it is you find so appealing about Owens. ”

        Well, she’s “a mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guygirl. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

        1. IOW, you like her because she’s a predictable parrot of RWNJ ideas, and you used this opportunity for a cheap shot at Biden.

          1. Well, no, as a heterosexual male I like her because she’s a cute predictable parrot of right wing ideas, and I used this opportunity for a cheap shot at Biden.

            1. See? Honesty isn’t that hard. Congratulations!

    4. You think she has evidence?

      Of course you think she has evidence.

      Twit.

    5. Owens does, however, seem to thrive on the right-wing version of grievance culture. Not certain if this is a social media presence thing, a youth thing, or something else. Staying in the limelight may fit that model.

  2. I couldn’t find a link to the actual complaint, but –

    “In making these allegations of criminal activity, [Owens] claimed to have received information from someone who ‘stripped with [Ms. Klacik]’ and who allegedly told [Owens] that Ms. Klacik used campaign funds to purchase cocaine and scammed people of millions[.]”

    So if this has been accurately taken from the Complaint, then:

    1. Owens not only made the affirmative representations accusing Klacik of criminality (which is … still a thing, and bad), but also made affirmative representations that this was information that a specific person provided to her, which is easily verifiable, or not.

    2. Owens was provided the opportunity to retract, and did not.

    3. Apparently this started as a twitter feud, because of course it did. Protip- everyone should deplatform themselves from twitter; you’ll be happier.

    1. Certainly can’t argue with that, and I have never been on Twitter.

      As I keep saying, we’ve seen the plaintiff’s side of things, soon we’ll see the defendant’s.

    2. “I couldn’t find a link to the actual complaint,”

      It’s embedded in the “Law & Crime” article linked in the OP.

  3. An Iran-Iraq War of defamation suits.

    1. I treasure every opportunity I have to agree with you, Bob!

  4. If things look bad for Owens, she might still prevail using the Rachel Maddow / Tucker Carlson defense: “I am known for ‘hyperbole’. No one actually believes what I say.”

    1. 1. That wasn’t the issue in the Rachel Maddow case. Specifically, it was about disclosing the facts upon which an opinion was based, and then providing the contested statement. It’s from the Restatement of Torts.

      2. That was the issue in the Tucker Carlson case. Which was more, “This isn’t news, this is non-literal commentary. Given Tucker’s reputation, and reasonable viewer knows not to fully trust his statements.”

      3. That wouldn’t work here, given that Owens disclosed that she learned this information from a third person- that’s going to be a pretty key fact (IMO). If the person exists, she should be good, if the person doesn’t exist, it’s probably going to be rough sailing.

      1. GKHoffman: “…the Rachel Maddow / Tucker Carlson defense: I am known for ‘hyperbole’. No one actually believes what I say.”

        Loki13: That wasn’t the issue in the Rachel Maddow case.

        U.S. District Court: A main issue here is whether Maddow’s statement was hyperbolic.
        (In addition to the court’s 15 other references to hyperbolic language and Maddow’s history thereof as part of its analysis.)

        9th Circuit on appeal: Maddow’s use of hyperbolic rhetoric bolsters this conclusion and we conclude that Maddow’s contested statement fits within “the ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ [that] has traditionally added much to the discourse of our Nation.” Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 20. We therefore affirm the district court’s grant of Maddow’s anti-SLAPP motion.
        (In addition to the court’s 7 other references to hyperbolic language as part of its analysis.)

        It sure sounds like hyperbole was a major issue in the case.

        1. We all know loki13 isn’t interested in facts that go against his narrative.

      2. “That wasn’t the issue in the Rachel Maddow case.”

        It was an issue in both cases. From the op, “In turn, Maddow’s audience anticipates her effort “to persuade others to [her] position[] by use of epithets, fiery rhetoric or hyperbole.” ”

        “Given Tucker’s reputation, and reasonable viewer knows not to fully trust his statements.”

        Fox’s lawyers correctly argued that in context, viewers would expect Tucker’s reference to extortion to be legal commentary about the crime of extortion.

        They were basically the same issues, but were presented to the public very differently.

        1. The judge in Carlson’s case wasn’t particularly clear. For example,

          “As Defendant notes, Mr. Carlson himself aims to “challenge[] political correctness and media bias.” Def. Br. at 14. This “general tenor” of the show should then inform a viewer that he is not “stating actual facts” about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary.” ”

          But what the defendant’s brief actually says,

          “The “general tenor” of the segment—in fact, of the entire show reinforces the conclusion that Carlson was not “stating actual facts” about extortion in the legal sense”

          The statement in the brief is quite correct, given the context in which Tucker raised “extortion” on the segment.

          The judge gives the impression that Fox was arguing that no reasonable person thinks Carlson can be trusted, but it’s clear from the way she uses sporadic quotes in the opinion that she doesn’t have the receipts. And when you check the defendant’s brief, she doesn’t.

  5. Finally an excuse for the Federalist to resurrect their black on black crime tag on a story!

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