Marjorie Greene, a Republican candidate in Georgia’s 14th district and outspoken supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, lawyered up Wednesday to accuse her opponent of defamation.
Greene is facing John Cowan, a neurosurgeon, in an August 11 runoff. Neither of the candidates cleared 50 percent of the vote in the first round back in June, but Greene came out decidedly ahead.
Cowan put out an attack ad on Wednesday accusing Greene of aiding illegal immigration by refusing to use E-Verify at her construction company. E-Verify is a website used by the Department of Homeland Security to check the immigration status of potential employees.
Green’s libel attorney Lin Wood stated in a letter Wednesday that Green’s company, Taylor Commercial, Inc., has been using E-Verify since 2010, before it was mandatory in the state of Georgia.
“Your efforts to launch a false and scurrilous attack on Ms. Greene and Taylor Commercial, Inc. constitute actionable defamation to my clients,” Wood wrote. “Rather than confine yourself to a robust debate on issues for the benefit of the voters, you crossed the legal line and unlawfully and wrongfully published false accusations against Ms. Greene and Taylor Commercial, Inc.”
Wood demanded that Cowan take down the ads, which have been published on multiple social media platforms, make a public apology and retraction and preserve all documents and communications related to the ad.
“If you unwisely chose to continue publishing your false accusations against Ms. Greene and Taylor Commercial, Inc., I have been authorized to pursue any and all available legal remedies on my clients’ behalf, including a claim for punitive damages for your intentional lies,” he said.
In a response, Cowan’s attorney Bryan Tyson said that the letter confirms Cowan’s accusation — that Greene’s company did not start using E-Verify until 2010, though she had been running the company since 2003.
“Whenever her political opponents tell the truth about Marjorie Greene, she responds with bullying efforts to silence them — even threatening private citizens and campaign volunteers,” Cowan’s campaign manager Spencer Hogg said in a statement. “These are the exact same Cancel Culture tactics used by the Left to attack free speech they don’t like.”
“Perhaps she would play nicer in the sandbox if our supporters spun conspiracy theories — she tends to like those — rather than tell documented facts,” he added. “John Cowan will tell the truth about Marjorie, just as he’ll stand up to Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats in Congress.”
The glossy ad begins with a tidal wave of red, representing the “illegal aliens” flooding into the United States.
Marjorie Greene has a history of being soft on illegal immigration. Records show she refused to use E-Verify at her family business. If we can’t trust Marjorie to hire Americans instead of illegal immigrants, we can’t trust her to stop illegal immigration in Congress! pic.twitter.com/okcOPVjSYg
— John Cowan (@JohnCowanGA) July 8, 2020
“Millions of illegal aliens cross our borders and take our jobs, aided by people like Marjorie Greene,” the narrator intones. “While leading her construction company, Marjorie Greene refused to participate in the E-Verify program designed to make sure that workers are not illegal aliens.”
“We can’t trust opportunist politician Marjorie Greene,” the narrator ads, before promising that Cowan will work alongside President Donald Trump to “build the wall and stop illegal immigration.”
Cowan is trying to resuscitate a campaign that seemed on death’s door after the primary’s first round. When he finished nearly 20 points behind Greene, it seemed likely that she’d clinch the nomination and, almost certainly, the seat itself in the deeply Republican district.
But since then, some in the GOP establishment have turned against Greene. Made uneasy by past offensive statements and her interest in the most extreme parts of the QAnon conspiracy theory — including that Trump is up against a “global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles” — many cut ties when a slew of Greene’s social media videos were unearthed. In s0me of them, she expressed racist and Islamophobic sentiments.
“The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said last month. “I will be supporting Dr. Cowan.”
The NRCC added that Chairman Tom Emmer (R-MN) was “personally disgusted” by the sentiments.
The very public break made some experts think that Republican leadership may be worried about a Steve King redux, so soon after the congressman — who became famous for his extreme beliefs and coziness with white nationalists — lost his primary after becoming a party pariah.
Jeffrey Lewis Lazarus, a political science professor at Georgia State University, told TPM then that the Republican establishment could avoid the embarrassment of a King 2.0 by “endorsing her opponent by name, actively campaigning for him, and investing some money in him.”
With the runoff on August 11, Republicans have about a month to try to head off Greene’s candidacy, or risk having a new Steve King-shaped albatross around the party’s neck.