The Congressman and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee filed the suit in Virginia state court accusing the social media giant of “negligence, defamation per se, insulting words, and civil conspiracy.”
“Twitter allowed (and allows) its platform to serve as a portal of defamation in order to undermine public confidence in Plaintiff and to benefit his opponents and opponents of the Republican Party,” the lawsuit states.
It goes on to claim Twitter is “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory – providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform.”
Nunes alleges the site has a “political agenda” by allowing users Elizabeth A. “Liz” Mair, and two anonymous accounts — “Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’ Cow” (@DevinCow) — to attack him.
The lawsuit includes posts Nunes has deemed offensive, including a tweet posted by Mair in May 2018, that alleges Nunes has ties to “prostitutes and cocaine addicts.”
“Among the false statements published by Mair… is that ‘Nunes is still entangled with a winery implicated in a scandal involving his co-investors, cocaine and child prostitutes,'” the lawsuit says.
The Congressman was re-elected in November 2018, but the suit claims he won by a much smaller margin than previous elections because of Twitter. He’s been in office since 2003.
“During his last re-election for the 22nd Congressional District, Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life,” the suit claims. “Unlike prior elections, where Nunes won by sweeping majorities, Nunes won on November 6, 2018 by a much narrower margin, receiving 52.7% of the 222,379 votes.”
The filing additionally alleges that the site is “essentially refusing to self-regulate – thereby selectively amplifying the message of defamers such as Mair, Devin Nunes’ Mom and Devin Nunes’ cow, and materially contributing to the libelousness of the hundreds of posts at issue in this action.”
Nunes says he’s alerted Twitter, but the site is “ignoring lawful complaints about offensive content and by allowing that content to remain accessible to the public, and (e) by intentionally abandoning and refusing to enforce its so-called Terms of Service and Twitter Rules.”
The Congressman is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.