Anti-Boebert campaign PAC accuses Colorado congresswoman of defamation

Tribune Content Agency

DENVER — A group responsible for spreading lurid accusations against U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert during last year’s election cycle has filed suit against the congresswoman for defamation.

David Wheeler and his group, American Muckrakers PAC, is accusing Boebert of hurting his fundraising with her own lawsuit threats and accusations that he made up the allegations lobbed at her during her re-election campaign. Wheeler’s group accused the Colorado lawmaker of a number of salacious activities that would be illegal or, given her staunch Christian conservative politics, hypocritical if proven true. Wheeler is a former Democratic candidate for the North Carolina state senate.

Boebert’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the lawsuit. She has vehemently denied the accusations in the past.

Following the accusations, Boebert took to conservative media with national footprints to claim Wheeler and his PAC made accusations they knew to be false — a claim Wheeler disputes. As part of his lawsuit announcement, Wheeler released audio recordings of many of his sources for the claims. The lawsuit states Boebert knew they were “publishing their sources’ reports … rather than making statements based on their own first-hand knowledge.”

“She went on multiple national shows, she was on the most-listened-to radio show in America, Sean Hannity’s show, to say we knew what we posted was a lie and posted it anyway,” Wheeler said in an interview. “I don’t know where you come from, but where I come from, that says you’re a scumbag.”

He added, “When someone says you’re a complete scumbag, where I come from, that means you stand up for yourself. In this case, that means taking her to court, so we’re taking her to court.”

In an interview, Wheeler acknowledged that they weren’t saying they had conclusive proof Boebert did what she was accused of, but that the allegations were corroborated by multiple sources and widely spread on social media. He notes that when one accusation was explicitly disproven, he took it down from his website.

U.S. libel laws generally give a wide berth for accusations made against public figures.

Wheeler said Boebert’s threats to sue him, his organization and his donors — the latter being an unorthodox if not unprecedented legal strategy — effectively shut off fundraising for his committee. The lawsuit states the group pulled in $20,000-plus in May and June 2022, when the accusations went public and surged through liberal circles. At the same time, Boebert took to multiple media outlets to deny them and hit back at Wheeler and the PAC, including allusions to a pending lawsuit.

In the following months, American Muckraker reported pulling in a quarter or less of its previous fundraising totals. The group estimates it lost fundraising to be about $158,000, according to the lawsuit.

While Boebert’s lawsuit hasn’t happened, the threat did effectively stifle American Muckrakers’ fundraising, Wheeler alleges. He said he was prepared for and even looking forward to the suit.

“We were looking forward to it because there’s this very defining moment between amateurs and professionals when they discover they have to go before a judge and possibly a jury and tell the truth,” Wheeler said. “Then they tend to back down from their ridiculous claim.”

Wheeler previously won recognition for releasing lewd videos of former U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, ahead of his unsuccessful reelection bid in 2020. Cawthorn, like Boebert, was aligned with the furthest right wing of the party and among former President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters.