Two election workers who counted votes for the 2020 presidential election filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against the parent company of One America News, senior staff at the far-right TV network and Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as a personal lawyer to former president Donald Trump.
The two women “have become objects of vitriol, threats, and harassment … because of a campaign of malicious lies,” their attorneys wrote in the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Deliberate efforts to spread disinformation about America’s election workers undermine the integrity of American elections … and accordingly, threaten democracy.”
The legal action seeks to force the defendants to delete false statements about the two women from their platforms. It also asks for compensatory and punitive damages.
Biden narrowly won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in 2020, marking the first time a Democratic presidential nominee emerged victorious there since Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump and his supporters have repeatedly and falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen.
Giuliani, One America News and its senior staff named in the lawsuit — chief executive Robert Herring, president Charles Herring and chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion — did not immediately return requests for comment late Thursday.
The plaintiffs allege that One America News replayed a misleading video produced by the Trump campaign, which was presented by volunteer Trump attorney Jacki L. Pick as an example of election workers stuffing fraudulent ballots from purportedly hidden “suitcases.” Pick did not name the workers, although she said “one of them had the name Ruby across her shirt somewhere.”
The two women say that Giuliani shared the video on social media, while repeatedly urging his followers to watch it. “OAN, its hosts, and its staff leveraged Giuliani’s unsupported factual assertions and almost immediately published them to millions of its viewers and readers,” their lawyers wrote.
In actuality, the surveillance video showed no irregularities, illegal behavior or evidence of malfeasance. The video also failed to show any act of hiding or obscuring any ballots or election materials.
At a lengthy news conference earlier this year, top Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling, who is a Republican, delivered a point-by-point debunking of claims that the video was proof of voter fraud.
The lawsuit is the second filed by the women this month against defendants they say spread false and defamatory information about their role in the election. On Dec. 2, Freeman and Moss sued Gateway Pundit, a far-right conspiracy website, alleging that the site published false stories about them that they say instigated a relentless campaign of harassment and threats.
That legal action said that the abuse against the two women was so severe that they had to “change their phone numbers, delete their online accounts, and fear for their physical safety.” At one point, Freeman left her home for two months at the advice of the FBI.
In the latest lawsuit, the lawyers said that Freeman received at least 420 emails and 75 text messages after the false accusations of electoral fraud. “We know where you live, we coming to get you,” one of those messages read, according to the lawsuit.
She also received Christmas cards with messages like: “Ruby please report to the FBI and tell them you committed voter fraud. If not you will be sorry.”
Numerous reviews in different states have debunked the false claims of a stolen presidential election. Earlier this month, a conservative group in Wisconsin published a review that concluded that “there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud … In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump.”
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.