1. Democracy Partners
In June of 2017, Democracy Partners and Robert Creamer filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the 2016 Project Veritas undercover investigation conducted by an undercover journalist interning at the Democracy Partners office constituted a Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Trespass, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Unlawful Wiretapping and Civil Conspiracy.
On March 31, 2020, the court granted Project Veritas’ Motion for Summary Judgement in part, outright dismissing two critical claims, Trespass and Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
The judge determined there were fact issues associated with Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Unlawful Wiretapping and Civil Conspiracy, which leaves these issues to be decided be a jury, the trier of fact, anticipated to be in October 2020.
We look forward to the trial where the Plaintiff will no longer have the benefit of having their arguments heard in the most favorable light, but rather, they actually have to prove their claims.
In September 2017, the American Federal of Teachers, Michigan, filed a complaint and obtained a temporary restraining order against Project Veritas. The AFT attempted to prevent Project Veritas from releasing its findings from an undercover investigation into the AFT’s activities.
Relying on the First Amendment, Project Veritas convinced a federal court to overturn the restraining order as it was a prior restraint on free speech. Project Veritas went on to publish the video in May 2018.
As a result, AFT pursued litigation against Project Veritas, leading to depositions in that case.
David Hecker, the president of AFT Michigan, admitted his true intentions for starting this legal process against Project Veritas:
“To have the lawsuit in -- in any way possible stop Project Veritas from doing the kind of work that it --it does, and to, as part of that, to compensate AFT Michigan for -- for damages.”
“If the result of it was also in some way slowing down or limiting what Project Veritas does, that would have been a great outcome as well, or will be a great outcome as well.”
In July of 2018, AFT issued a Press Release attacking Project Veritas. Paul Mersino, the attorney who represents Project Veritas in this case, brought the release up in an exchange with Hecker.
The following is the exchange with Mersino and Hecker quoting the AFT press release:
Paul Mersino, Project Veritas Attorney: "A federal judge has issued a crucial ruling allowing the American Federation of Teachers to gather information on conservative hit group Project Veritas as legal and financial pressure on the embattled outfit mounts. Were you at any point in time concerned with how much legal and financial pressure was mounting on Project Veritas?"
Mark Cousens, Lawyer, AFT Michigan: Objection, relevance…
Mersino: "Did you have any discussions with anyone outside of your attorneys, others at AFT Michigan, about whether or not you could cause Project Veritas to receive financial pressures?"
David Hecker, President AFT Michigan: "Of course, it's going to cost Project Veritas money and it's fact -- right? -- but that's not -- we didn't sit down and say "let's concoct a lawsuit" so we could make them spend a lot of money."
Mersino: "And I think you mentioned earlier that if it's a side effect of it, then all the better essentially?"
Hecker: I'm no fan of Project Veritas.
In the next exchange, Hecker admitted using local and national member dues to fund attacks against Project Veritas:
Mersino: "What resources does AFT Michigan have at its disposal? Do you use member dues to help pay for this litigation?"
Mersino: "Is AFT National helping pay for the litigation?"
In another exchange, Mersino pressed Hecker on Randi Weingarten, the national president of AFT of her role:
Mersino: "Was Randi Weingarten involved in those consultations with AFT National?"
Hecker: "She would have been involved in those -- some of those discussions."
Project Veritas’ legal team subpoenaed Weingarten for her deposition. Many questions still need to be answered by AFT leaders and their conduct since the inception of this case. The trial is set for December 2020.
3. Koerber II vs. Project Veritas et al
Kimberly Koerber, who was recorded by our undercover journalists in their Common Core investigation, sued a second time. This time she based her defamation lawsuit for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Unfair Business Practices, Negligence, Defamation, Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Relations, and for Damages on a short video Project Veritas released discussing several lawsuits that had been filed against the organization, including Koerber’s original lawsuit.
In addition, to some creative drafting of her complaint, her lawyer has had a difficult time abiding by the rules of the court, wasting time and resources. Koerber and her counsel have failed to submit her documents on-time and demanded last-minute postponements of long-scheduled appearances in court.
The judge has dismissed the Emotional Distress, Negligence, and the Interference with Prospective Economic Relations claims based on Project
Veritas’ Anti-SLAPP, Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, Motion to
Strike. We continue to challenge the Defamation and Unfair Business Practices claims. The judge awarded Project Veritas roughly $70,000 for its attorneys’ fees for the Anti-SLAPP Motion so far.
4. Massachusetts Constitutional Challenge
As noted above, this matter is pending a decision before the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston following the January 8, 2020 hearing.