|Ali A. Akbar
Baron Coleman, a lawyer in Montgomery, Alabama, issued the Akbar threat via a letter dated October 26, 2013, three days after I landed in the Shelby County Jail. You can read Coleman's letter at the end of this post. Obviously, I never read it--or even knew about it--until I was released from jail in March 2014. Once I did read it, I knew right off that Baron Coleman is a sorry excuse for a lawyer--or he has motivations for participating in the con games that seem to bring so much joy to many Republican operatives.
Having earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and practiced professionally in the field for more than 30 years, I know a thing or two about communications law. In order to graduate from my university in journalism, you had to take at least one course in the field. I knew right off that Baron Coleman's letter was as worthless as a 1980-model typewriter.
Akbar threatened to sue me over an article about a letter Alabama lawyer and Don Siegelman-case whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson wrote to Robert Bauer, counsel for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The Simpson letter grew from a bizarre appearance by Republican election guru Karl Rove on Fox News' On the Record, with Greta Van Susteren.
Rove took a question about the tax-exempt status of certain PACs and turned it into an attack on Simpson, Bauer, and Siegelman--who was the target of perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in U.S. history. Rove told Van Susteren that Bauer represented Simpson in her 2007 testimony before the U.S. Congress and that she never testified under oath.
Both statements are demonstrably false, and Simpson responded with a letter to Bauer in which she included an affidavit stating that the two of them had never met, and he had never represented her. Simpson also wrote that she thought Rove became unhinged on live TV because he knew she had damaging information about his personal life, and it soon might become public knowledge.
|Greta Van Susteren and Karl Rove
In her letter to Bauer, Simpson stated that she took the Akbar ad and used it to unearth more information about his ties to powerful Republicans. Her research, she stated, indicated that Akbar and Rove had a sexual relationship.
I received a copy of Simpson's letter and reported on its contents in a post dated June 27, 2012. Roughly 18 months later, Ali Akbar decided he had been defamed and enlisted Baron Coleman to send me the letter you can read below.
Curiously, it seems Akbar's lawyer did not send such a letter to Jill Simpson, even though the allegedly defamatory material originated with her. Is that because Akbar knows the burden of proof to show that Simpson's statements are false would be on him--and he probably could not meet it?
As for the deep-pockets GOP donor who supports Akbar's bloggers club, that would be Wyoming investment guru Foster Friess. A 2012 report from Yahoo News! shows that the NBC grew from an annual Washington, D.C., social gathering called Blog Bash. The report makes it clear that Foster Friess helped the bloggers club take flight:
Organizers used the party to announce the formation of a new nonprofit started with seed money from millionaire Santorum-backer Foster Friess. Called the "National Bloggers Club," the group will use donations to fund private reporting projects. It also hopes to issue press passes, serving as a clearinghouse so event organizers can differentiate between a blogger with honest intentions versus someone looking for a free pass by starting a Blogspot account. But mostly, the organizers said, the new organization will support and encourage online writers.
At his fosterfriess.com Web site, Friess portrays himself as a modern-day Marlboro man, apparently without the cigarettes. On his bio page, Friess is called "The Man Atop the Horse," with a photo that evokes images from the much-parodied video for Dale Peterson, a former candidate for agricultural commissioner in Alabama. The absurd Peterson ad inspired one of the funniest videos in YouTube history.
|Foster Friess: The Man Atop the Horse
Would such a moral, Christian, tough guy support the idea of sending letters that threaten baseless lawsuits? Well, that's exactly what Ali Akbar is doing, and his bloggers club got off the ground largely because of Foster Friess' financial support.
How do we know, by the way, that Ali Akbar's lawsuit threat has no meat to its bones? What does the law say about such matters? We will address those questions in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)