On May 23, just one day before Thursday’s scheduled hearing, Virginia attorney John DiNucci filed court documents announcing that he would represent Spencer in court.
Spencer told TPM in a text that the delay was intended to “keep you all on the edges of your seats.”
But the white nationalist leader had struggled to raise the $25,000 he claimed he needed for his defense, repeatedly getting booted off of crowdfunding platforms like Funded Justice. As of Thursday morning, Spencer’s legal defense page on Freestartr, a platform founded by right-wing troll Chuck Johnson, had pulled in $20,095.
Donors who gave $100 were promised a “hand-written thank you note from Richard,” while those who gave $1,000 would get a phone or Skype call. Deeper-pocketed donors were invited to shell out $50,000 for a “serious legal defense fund” to tackle future lawsuits.
Spencer told TPM he had “exceeded” his goal “with bitcoin and such.”
Spencer and others involved with the deadly August 2017 white nationalist rally were sued in federal court by a group of Charlottesville residents for conspiring to commit violence*. A number of counter-protesters were injured at the rally, and 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed.
Spencer said his lawyer will argue that he never committed violence or encouraged supporters to do so.
That was the same argument he made in complaints filed against the universities that tried to keep him from coming to their campuses as part of his since-abandoned college speaking tour.
Violent brawls broke out at his final event at Michigan State University this spring, and a white nationalist fired gunshots at counter-protesters following Spencer’s talk at the University of Florida last fall.
TPM was not immediately able to reach DiNucci, whose website appears to be defunct. No one answered the phone at the number listed for DiNucci’s one-man law office, and he did not immediately respond to an email.
*CORRECTION: This sentence originally included details from a separate lawsuit filed in state court against the Charlottesville rally organizers. That lawsuit did not name Spencer as a defendant.