A Pennsylvania election official is suing former President Donald Trump and several of his top aides over “hollow and/or false and/or baseless and/or vacuous claims” about the 2020 election which allegedly caused that official to suffer two heart attacks.
James Savage oversees a voting machine warehouse in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In his 60-page lawsuit filed with the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, he alleges that Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and four other named defendants deliberately defamed him following the 45th president’s “contentious” electoral loss.
The verbose lawsuit says the defendants spread fabricated fraud allegations as part of a “perfidiously concerted and wicked plan to knowingly and intentionally publish hollow and/or false and/or baseless and/or vacuous claims of voter fraud, election fraud, and/or vote tampering, with the express purpose of creating mass political confusion and social unrest in the City of Philadelphia and/or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The lawsuit explains that as warehouse supervisor and chief custodian, Savage “managed the storage, security, programming, testing, and delivery of all voting equipment in Delaware County.” It says those positions “did not vest [Savage] with any ability to conduct vote tabulation whatsoever.” Moreover, the filing claims, two of the named defendants knew that Savage had no such ability to impact vote-tallying but went ahead and accused him of such nefarious conduct anyway.
“While Mr. Savage was performing his duties, two GOP poll watchers accused [Savage] of tampering with the presidential election vote tabulation by fraudulently uploading 50,000 votes for Joseph Biden, when [Savage] did nothing of the sort,” the lawsuit notes.
“Defendants Gregory Stenstrom and Leah Hoopes,” the lawsuit continues, “baselessly claimed that they saw [Savage] use tampered versions of USB v-cards (mechanisms used in Delaware County’s voting machines) to alter the vote tabulation of the 2020 Presidential election in Delaware County, and therefore the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with 50,000 votes for President Biden.”
Also named in the lawsuit is the Thomas More Society, a conservative public interest law firm. The Society was named as a defendant because one of its attorneys, Phillip Kline, allegedly endorsed claims made by Stenstrom. Kline is the former attorney general of Kansas who made a name investigating abortion providers. Kline’s law license is suspended in Kansas; it lists an address for Kline at Liberty University, where Kline is on the faculty.
Savage goes on to assert that all of the named defendants “knew that such fraud was impossible” but “spread, reposted, and disseminated these outrageously defamatory claims and/or insinuations against Mr. Savage, subjecting him to threats of physical violence” and the aforementioned heart attacks he suffered as a result of the ensuing stress of being targeted.
“Defendants made these statements and insinuations with the intent of harming Plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of his peers and members of his community so that Mr. Savage would be deemed dishonest and regarded as a criminal,” the lawsuit claims. “As a direct and proximate cause of said false statements, Mr. Savage’s reputation has been damaged, his earning capacity has been greatly diminished, and he suffered two (2) heart attacks.”
The lawsuit cites the following accusation made by Stenstrom at an event with Keystone State Republicans in late November 2020:
So I personally observed uh USB v-cards being uploaded to the voting machines by the uh, the uh voting machine warehouse supervisor on multiple occasions. I saw this personally. I brought it to the attention of the deputy sheriff who was there stationed who was a senior law enforcement officer, and I brought it to the attention of the clerk of elections. Um I brought it to their attention I objected, and I said, uh, “This person is not being observed, he’s not part of the process that I can see, and he’s walking in with baggies which we have pictures of, and that were submitted in our affidavits, and he was sticking these USBs into the machines. So I personally witnessed over that happen twenty four times, over twenty four times. Um we have multiple other witnesses who saw it including Democrat poll watchers.
The filing also attributes the following allegation to Hoopes:
Let’s also make note that the voting machine warehouse supervisor is a Bernie Sanders delegate who was also solely responsible for every scanner, machine, v-card, and all machines with absolutely zero experience in this area.
“While Defendant Hoopes’ intent was clearly to disparage [Savage], she was factually accurate that [Savage] would not have been trained or experienced in uploading votes for influencing tabulation purposes, improperly or otherwise,” the lawsuit says.
Moreover, the lawsuit alleges, neither Trump nor Giuliani believed any of the above but went on to spread lies about vote tampering in Pennsylvania — an alleged and fake scheme that directly implicated Savage in his role as the warehouse supervisor.
“Simply put, Mr. Savage’s physical safety, and his reputation, were acceptable collateral damage for the wicked intentions of the Defendants herein, executed during their lubricious attempt to question the legitimacy of President Joseph Biden’s win in Pennsylvania,” attorney J. Conor Corcoran writes in the lawsuit.
Specifically, the lawsuit accuses each of the defendants of defamation via libel and slander, false light invasion of privacy, and civil conspiracy. Savage is seeking a jury trial to determine the extent of the alleged liability and damages in excess of $50,000 from each defendant along with punitive damages, interest, and attorney’s fees.
Read the full filing below:
[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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