Rep. Devin Nunes says he filed suit in Virginia state court on Monday against Twitter, a conservative political operative and two anonymous Twitter accounts, alleging a conspiracy to defame him and oust him from political office.
The California Republican seeks $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages for “pain, insult, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and mental suffering, and injury to his personal and professional reputations,” according to the complaint, which was first reported by Fox News.
A Republican political consultant based in Arlington County, Virginia, Liz Mair, is responsible for a slew of defamatory statements about Nunes, the congressman claims, as well as two parody accounts impersonating his mother and a cow, the 22nd District Republican said.
Some of the insults by the account @DevinNunesMom he describes as part of a “vicious defamation campaign” include allegations that he has “white supremacist friends,” that he is a “treasonous Putin shill,” and that he is “covering up Trump’s conspiracy against the United States.” Many of the tweets relayed in the complaint are lewd, including tweets depicting Nunes as a cocaine addict, as having a sexually transmitted disease and as having “engaged in sexual acts with the president.”
Nunes, who grew up on a dairy farm in the San Joaquin Valley, said the account @DevinCow made a number of false statements about him while employing cattle puns, including that he is “udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison.”
A member of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, Nunes accuses the defendants of working in concert to obstruct his investigations into “corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election.”
And Twitter actively participated in the scheme, Nunes claims. The platform censored or “shadow banned” his account in order to diminish his voice and “amplify the voices of his Democratic detractors,” and failed to enforce its terms of service by not banning the parody accounts, the congressman alleges.
Twitter only banned the account @DevinNunesMom after the congressman’s real mother, Toni Dian Nunes, filed a complaint.
The extant parody account, @DevinCow, has accrued thousands of followers since news of Nunes’ lawsuit broke. According to the complaint, @DevinCow recently had just 1,204 followers; the account had nearly 60,000 as of Tuesday morning.
A spokesman for Nunes did not immediately reply to a request for comment.