Friday, May 28, 2010

D'Annunzio may sue state Republican chairman

The Republican primary in the 8th congressional district just gets more bizarre. Now the leading candidate in the May 4 primary, Tim D'annunzio is threatening to sue State Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer of Raleigh for calling him unfit for office and raising old issues. I'm not a libel lawyer, of course, but I do know it's pretty hard for a candidate with as many flamboyant utterances in his past as Tim D'Annunzio to succeed in civil court on a libel or defamation claim.

 He surely knows that, too, but he's trying to win the June 22 runoff primary against runner-up Harold Johnson, and a threat to sue is as good a way to get attention as any. Thing is, that kind of attention is what Democrats love most about this race, and they're no doubt counting on the craziness in the GOP primary to make voters forget all about whatever it is that they didn't like about first-term incumbent Larry Kissell. D’Annunzio is demanding a retraction and a letter of apology from Fetzer and says he’s considering filing a $5 million lawsuit against Fetzer.

Here's a copy of what the D'Annunzio campaign sent out last night:

Tim D'Annunzio Takes Action Against NC GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer

RAEFORD, NC - Tim D'Annunzio, Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina's 8th Congressional district, today began taking steps towards legal action against North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer. Tim has sought legal counsel and sent the following letter demanding a retraction of his negative comments and ordering Mr. Fetzer respond with a letter of apology.

- - -

Dear Mr. Fetzer:

As you may know, this firm serves as counsel and represents Mr. Tim D'Annunzio.

Mr. D'Annunzio is deeply saddened by and concerned about the recent defamatory statements and allegations you have made including the assertion that Mr. D'Annunzio is "unfit for public office." He demands retraction.

Certainly, you and Mr. D'Annunzio have had differences. Mr. D'Annunzio has opined that you have, as the Chairman of the North Carolina Republican party, (1) sought to control him and to compel him to act as you direct, and (2) been angered and upset by Mr. D'Annunzio's independence, affiliation with "Tea Party" voters, and his unwillingness to be required to submit to you and others in your "political oligarchy," which he believes will do nothing more than maintain the status quo within the Republican party and compromise the conservative values he holds.

Now, Mr. D'Annunzio believes that you have unfairly personally attacked and assailed him and improperly and inequitably used your power and position in an effort to harm him by making deliberately, intentionally, and maliciously disparaging comments concerning him.

Mr. D'Annunzio is considering filing a civil law suit against you in which he would seek damages in excess of five million dollars ($5,000,000.00) caused by your comments, which resulted in matters from his youth and allegations from a divorce which occurred fifteen years ago being used to impugn Mr. D'Annunzio and to hold him up to ridicule, harming him in his campaign, his business and professional life, and causing great pain and anguish to his family.

As you know, Mr. D'Annunzio maintains his commitment to fundamental constitutional values. Yet, he also maintains that the utterances and publications that you have made individually and in confederation with others are not entitled to constitutional protection. As the North Carolina Courts have said:

At the time the First Amendment was adopted, as today, there were those unscrupulous enough and skillful enough to use the deliberate or reckless falsehood as an effective political tool . . . . That speech is used as a tool for political ends does not automatically bring it under the protective mantle of the Constitution. For the use of the known lie as a tool is at once at odds with the premises of democratic government and with the orderly manner in which economic, social, or political change is to be effected. Calculated falsehood falls into that class of utterances which are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

Your statements, asserting that Mr. D'Annunzio has not overcome his mistakes, that there is no healing or redemption for those who erred more than 15 years ago in a divorce situation, and that the errors that he made as a juvenile, continue so as presently and always to "disqualify him... from serving [in any] elected office," are false. This falsity and the structure and form of the statements are such as to cause a hearer or observer of those words to believe erroneously that Mr. D'Annunzio has not overcome, as he has, those difficulties of his past, and that he is not putting the past behind him, learning from it, and moving forward --- looking to move this state, this district, and this nation forward, overcoming its own adversities.

In an effort to apply those principles of learning, healing, and overcoming and to move forward, Mr. D'Annunzio is willing to resolve this matter in much the same way as you resolved a civil matter in which you believed you were unfairly cast in a negative light. That is, Mr. D'Annunzio is willing to waive his right to sue, provided that you retract your negative declarations, you issue a letter of apology, and you agree to resolve this matter in a civilized and proper manner.

We will expect your response no later than June 7, 2010. In any event, please accept this notice and demand that retraction is sought.


The Mitchell Law Group

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