Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) claims the Alabama Political Reporter (APR) knowingly published a false article that damaged his reputation and hurt his political career. Taylor is a long-time ally of former Governor Bob Riley, and APR has broken a number of stories about a Lee County grand-jury investigation that might "bring down the Riley machine" and one of its most prominent members, House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Taylor alleges that reports on the Web site cost him a position on the Alabama Ethics Commission, according to a report at Courthouse News Service (CSN). (See complaint at the end of this post.) From the CSN report:
In a complaint filed in the Etowah County (Ala.) Circuit Court, Bryan Taylor claims the blog and its editors, Bill and Susan Britt, published an article entitled "Shadowy Conduct of the Man Who Would Be Ethics Chief," with the "conscious and malicious objective" of scuttling his potential candidacy for director of the Alabama Ethics Commission.
Taylor, who is also a practicing attorney and is representing himself in the litigation, claims the article contains "a number of maliciously false and defamatory statements, assertions, or imputations," which the article bills as "facts" about his conduct in public service.
Not surprisingly, Taylor's complaint focuses on Bob Riley:
As detailed in his complaint, Taylor is most upset about the article's depiction of his service to former Ala. Gov. Bob Riley.
Among what Taylor describes as the "false assertions" included in the blog post are that his conduct while working as an aide to Riley was "clearly improper, unethical, and potentially criminal," because he "received additional compensation from the governor's re-election campaign committee" at the same time that he was on the government payroll.
Taylor further contends the post maligned him by insinuating that he refused to file a mandatory "Statement of Economic Interests" with the state's Ethics Commission over the course of the five years he worked for the governor, and by further claiming that he lied when he told a radio interviewer he practiced law before joining Riley's staff. The blog post claimed he wasn't admitted to the Alabama State bar until seven months after the governor hired him.
Taylor accuses APR of practicing sloppy journalism and being driven by money:
Taylor contends these statements are the result of the blog being overly influenced by political advertisers and that the blog routinely published "paid or otherwise compensated" political content "without labeling it as advertising, for the purpose of manipulating public opinion."
He claims the blog's editors "consciously or deliberately" failed to contact him prior to publishing the article, "and thus deprived Taylor of the opportunity to correct Defendants' falsehoods before they were published."
He also claims the editors deliberately avoided discovering or otherwise determining whether the statements contained in the article were true or false.
CSN reports that Taylor seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus injunctive relief and court costs.