You may have heard that conservatives were planning to win back power with Twitter (yeah, we know, but hear us out). To this end a couple of bright fellows, Michael Leahy and Rob Neppell, started Top Conservatives on Twitter. It’s more than a hashtag (#TCOT) — it’s an important rightwing equity!
Leahy — who previously occupied his time with Obama “birther” conspiracy theories and similar hard-hitting political reportage — particularly liked to brag on his brainchild’s accomplishments (“#TCOT Continues to Dominate Twitter Hashtags“). Eventually the two founding tweepers got in a fight, leading to public embarrassment and much mockery. (The pair has since decided to entrust their precious TCOT to a “third party.”)
One of Leahy’s top mockers has been StephanieInCA. At her website Teablogging she deals classic internet insults (e.g. “Insane douchenozzle”) to Leahy, and has also reproduced some of his unflattering tax history.
Leahy feels stung by StephanieInCA. And guess how this Twitter pioneer is responding?
That’s right — with a lawsuit, accusing StephanieInCA of Libel, Invasion of Privacy, Interference with an Economic Contact and (our favorite) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
The whole filing is pretty hilarious, but here’s a breakdown:
First, it appears Leahy has done some sleuthing, identifying StephanieInCA as Stephanie Grasmick, and reproducing with painstaking detail her work, personal, and even social media contacts (“Grasmick is Facebook friends with Shauna Daly, Research Director at the Democratic National Committee and a known bare knuckles political operative known for digging up dirt on political opponents”). Did we mention Leahy is suing for Invasion of Privacy, and that this filing appears on his website?
Leahy reports Grasmick is “in regular public communication with an individual whose real identity is at present unknown, but whose Twitter profile is http://www.twitter.com/DukeStJournal.” On May 16, Leahy further states, “St.Journal publicly congratulated Grasmick on Twitter in a message directed to her for her libelous act of May 13, 2009, and declared that ‘Leahy must be destroyed.’ (Exhibit Y).”
This, he claims, is “evidence that both St.Journal and Grasmick’s actions towards Leahy are based on malice and a desire to cause personal harm to him.”
For a Twitter pioneer and political operative, Leahy seems unaccustomed to both internet and political discourse (we fondly recall Lee Atwater promising “strip the bark off the little bastard” Dukakis in 1988; thank God he didn’t live to see Republicans suing over such language).
As further motive for Grasmick’s mission to destroy him, Leahy claims that “Liberal Democratic political activists across the country fear the political power that has been evidenced by the success of the Tea Party Movement.” He also accuses her of using Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals on him — not from any evidence, but probably because that’s one of the things rightwingers like to say about Obama. (Leahy himself has penned a book called Rules for Conservative Radicals, which suggests a certain amount of projection.)
Leahy is also suing because Grasmick called him a “major tax fraud” on her blog — which is libelous because “the existence of a tax lien is not evidence of tax fraud.” You can almost see him triumphantly retucking his shirt after coming up with that one.
This also goes to the Interference with an Economic Contact claim: Leahy says her insult was “intentionally designed to interfere with Leahy’s rights as a citizen to execute an installment agreement with the United States Internal Revenue Service” over his unpaid taxes. (IRS agents must be more easily swayed than our tax attorney led us to believe.)
It goes on and on like this. We expect Leahy isn’t really after the damages he claims to seek (though they would come in handy, considering all the back taxes he owes). He probably just wants to send a message to the world: that it must take Michael Leahy, founder of TCOT, as seriously as he takes himself. And that’s pretty damned serious.