Romney’s National Finance Co-Chairman Sues Mother Jones

Feb 05, 13

Frank VanderSloot, CEO of marketing company Melaleuca, is suing Mother Jones magazine because he contends that he was defamed by an article that depicted him as a “gay-basher.” VanderSloot, who served as Mitt Romney’s national finance co-chairman, filed the lawsuit in Idaho Falls’ 7th District court and said that a February 2012 article about him and two tweets promoting it prompted national criticism.

Vandersloot’s recent case is a great example of the need for a federal anti-SLAPP law.  If VanderSloot had filed his defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones in California (where it is headquartered), he would have been subject to California’s anti-SLAPP law, where Mother Jones could have potentially had the case thrown out early as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and had their attorney’s fees paid for.  Instead, he filed the lawsuit in Idaho, where there is no anti-SLAPP law.

In the past, Mother Jones successfully used California’s anti-SLAPP law to have a SLAPP dismissed.  That SLAPP was filed by another conservative political operative, Donald Sipple.  See Sipple for Foundation for National Progress.

However, Idaho is not alone.  Nearly half of US states still do not have anti-SLAPP laws.  Those laws that are on the books vary in strength and breadth.  This patchwork of state laws allows “forum shopping” by plaintiffs, who can file their SLAPPs in jurisdictions where anti-SLAPP protections are absent or weak.  Plaintiffs can also avoid state anti-SLAPP laws by filing a federal claim in federal court, or, in some jurisdictions such as Washington DC, any claim in federal court.  Federal anti-SLAPP legislation would protect Americans in all states and at the federal level from SLAPPs.

This is why PPP is working to enact federal anti-SLAPP legislation. Every day, thousands of Americans are turning to websites like Twitter to voice their opinions.  PPP is fighting to protect your voice and ensure that you are not the target of meritless SLAPPs.  You can watch a video that explains more and learn about the work we are currently doing on our Indiegogo site:

You can also read more about the VanderSloot case here:

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