Sibley, Iowa — The judge in a federal case brought by Congressman Devin Nunes’ family from the Sibley area against a magazine writer says the Nunes family has to show where the money is coming from for their legal counsel.
There are actually two separate lawsuits. Nunes himself filed suit against Hearst Publishing, the publishers of Esquire Magazine, in which writer Ryan Lizza wrote an article that Congressman Nunes and his family objected to, but so did the Nunes family, doing business as NuStar Farm. Among other objections, the Nunes family said that the article alleged that the dairy knowingly employed workers who were in the country illegally.
The Congressman’s suit was dismissed but an appeals court said recently that one part of it had merit, and it was re-opened.
Meanwhile, in the family’s case, United States District Judge Mark Roberts has ordered, at the suggestion of the publishing company’s attorneys, that the Nunes family and their business, NuStar Dairy LLC disclose any records that have anything to do with litigation funding.
The publishing company argues that if the Nunes legal defense is being paid by “wealthy private donors,” perhaps related to the Congressman, this raises significant constitutional concerns. They say they are concerned about the “chilling effect” of financing defamation cases. They also raise the specter of “…private figures pursuing ‘tandem libel cases’ at the behest of a public figure and avoiding the protections offered to media defendants by the requirement of proving actual malice.” While private individuals don’t have to prove actual malice in a defamation case, public figures do.
In court documents, Judge Roberts writes that the Nunes family’s “…response to the request merely objected on relevance grounds.”
The Nunes family has until Tuesday, November 2nd to produce any relevant paperwork.