Conservative activist Candace Owens has prevailed in a clash of the pro-Donald Trump influencers, securing a $115,000 against a failed political candidate who filed a defamation lawsuit over tweets calling her a “madame” and a money launderer.
“In summary, this case ended as a complete and total win for Ms. Owens, as we promised it would all along,” Owens’s lawyer Daniel Horwitz told Law&Crime in an email. “Hopefully, this landmark win will also deter other politicians from filing baseless SLAPP-suits in the future.”
Short for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” SLAPP actions are those designed to chill free speech, and the judgment Owens landed falls under Tennessee’s anti-SLAPP law. Horwitz claims it’s a “record” award of its kind in the Volunteer State.
“I will also mention that whatever anyone thinks of the personalities involved, this is a major win for press freedom,” Horwitz added. “People—reporters, media outlets, and media personalities especially—should not have to fear being sued for criticizing or raising questions about politicians. Anti-SLAPP laws like Tennessee’s are crucial to protect that freedom, and they work. Anti-SLAPP protections should also be expanded so that a person’s freedom to criticize a politician does not turn on something as arbitrary as where they live or where they were sued.”
As Horwitz’s statement indicates, his client Owens and the woman who sued her — Kimberly Klacik — are polarizing figures. Owens has discouraged the public from receiving COVID-19 vaccines and propagated conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. She and Klacik shared stridently pro-Trump politics, and as Black women, have criticized racial justice activists in often-inflammatory ways. Klacik personally won Trump’s approval by attacking the late civil rights luminary, Rep. Elijah Cummings, by disseminating a video of what she depicted as run-down neighborhoods of his Maryland district with the message: “Black Lives Don’t Matter To Democrats.” (Cummings, as a federal lawmaker, had no direct power over the upkeep of Baltimore streets.)
Democrats don’t want you to see this.
They’re scared that I’m exposing what life is like in Democrat run cities.
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) August 17, 2020
Despite shared political ideologies and similar reputations, Owens and Klacik’s personal relationship disintegrated in what a lawsuit called a “petty Twitter feud.”
In 2021, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, and even though Trump once officially supported that, Owens and Klacik opposed his successor actually doing it. Owens used the eve of the holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans to muse on Twitter: “Sometimes I wonder when (if ever) Black America will wake up to the psychological warfare and perpetual brainwash to believe everything is racist.”
Sometimes I wonder when (if ever) black America will wake up to the psychological warfare and perpetual brainwash to believe everything is racist.
Like when China starts talking about Black Lives Matter, how is it not obvious that we are political pawns? #JuneTeenth2021
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 18, 2021
Klacik claims that the trouble began after she shot back: “Believe it or not, many in ‘Black America’ are very aware the fight is about classism rather [than] racism. Unfortunately, the loudest mouths with the largest platforms represent the majority. This might come to a shock to you because of your lack of engagement with black people.”
Some four days later, Klacik said, Owens “published a live video” for her millions of followers on Facebook and Instagram with the allegations that her now-dismissed lawsuit calls defamatory. Klacik claimed the video falsely accused her of tax fraud, campaign fraud, money laundering, illegal drug use, and acting as a “madame.” Owens claimed that the use of the word “madame” referred to Klacik seeking other girls to work at a club, not sex work or prostitution.
Before a scheduled hearing, Klacik stipulated that the anti-SLAPP should be granted, according to the final order closing the case.
Klacik’s lawyer did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
[Images via Jason Kempin/Getty Images, YouTube screengrab]
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