BATON ROUGE, La. — Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke must turn over his emails, social media messages and other communications about the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly last summer, a federal magistrate ruled Thursday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Wilkinson’s order gives Duke until June 18 to turn over records. They’ve been requested by attorneys who sued far right extremists who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally last August.
Duke isn’t a defendant in the federal lawsuit, but plaintiffs’ attorneys served him with a subpoena for any communications he had with other white nationalists before and after the rally, including Facebook messages and direct messages on Twitter.
Duke, a Louisiana resident, appeared at the rally in Charlottesville, where a woman was killed when authorities say a man drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Several people injured in the violence sued the rally’s organizers, participants and promoters, including white nationalist Richard Spencer and neo-Nazi website publisher Andrew Anglin.
The lawyers who filed the suit in Virginia claim Duke attended at least one planning meeting for the rally and raised money for others to attend the Charlottesville gathering. He tweeted a photo of a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia’s campus on the eve of the rally.
Duke argued the scope of the subpoena was too broad and would impose “an undue burden and expense” on him. In a court filing, he called himself an “internationally known public figure” who receives hundreds of thousands of emails every year.
But the New Orleans-based magistrate said most of the subpoena’s requests are “narrowly drawn” and have “clear and substantial relevance” to the lawsuit’s claims. A focused keyword search would allow him to produce the requested emails, Wilkinson noted.
“Specifically, the issues at stake in the litigation are important matters of interest both to the parties themselves and to the public at large,” the magistrate wrote.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys said the documents they want from Duke “would be of great benefit in discovering the full extent of the conspiracy to plan and commit violence in Charlottesville.”
Duke, who has a radio show, campaigned in 2016 for one of Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seats. He ran for the open seat as a Republican and finished in seventh place.
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