Lately, political defamation cases are all the rage! Let’s review two recent suits:
- A French slander lawsuit involving The Troublemaker, a book sprinkled with gossipy prurient tidbits about the country’s first lady and president;
- A defamation battle over aggressive campaign ads in Oklahoma, involving accusations of financial impropriety and incompetence.
Political Defamation Cases: Accusations of Infidelity Lead To Lawsuit
The French have a reputation for adulterous acceptance. But politics are politics, and the public rarely looks kindly on elected officials with a yen for extramarital endeavors, even in France.
The stigma attached to infidelity is probably the reason why Valérie Trierweiler, the domestic partner of France’s current president, Francois Hollande, is suing two authors, Alix Bouilhaguet and Christophe Jakubyszyn, for defamation. The pair wrote a book called “La Frondeuse” (The Troublemaker”), which characterizes Trierweiler as a “narcissistic woman, using at once her charms to get what she wants and in the following second, showing her fangs when something displeases her.”
Now, if the literary duo stopped there, things may have blown over. But they also accused Trierweiler of cheating on Francois Hollande with notable French politician, Patrick Devedjian. Alix and Christophe also claim that notorious charmer, Nicolas Sarkozy, once made a pass at Victoria, which she blatantly rebuffed.
Political Defamation Cases: Campaign Ads Result In Libel Lawsuit
Back on this side of the pond, Dave Spence, a Missouri gubernatorial candidate running against incumbent governor Jay Nixon, filed a libel claim. The tussle involves campaign ad accusations that Spence’s bank executive past.
Filed in Cole County Circuit Court, the suit avers that Spence (a) did not use federal bailout money to buy himself a vacation home and (b) did not make bad investments that ran his bank “into the ground.” Since the defendant, in a campaign spot, said Spence did use federal money and mismanage investments, the plaintiff is charging defamation.
Both parties are lobbing aggressive sound bites to the media. Oren Shur, Nixon’s campaign manager, opined, “You see a lot of crazy stunts during the course of a campaign, but this frivolous lawsuit is misguided and desperate.” Spence, not to be outdone in the “red meat throwing” department chided that Nixon has “sold his soul to the devil.”
Who will likely win the Spence v. Nixon showdown? If the former can unequivocally prove that he didn’t misuse the bailout money or make bad investments, plus refute any evidence to the contrary, then he could eek out a win. Otherwise, this may just be posturing – which, let’s face it, is part of the political game, on both sides of the isle.