GOP’s Devin Nunes Casts Wider Net in Trying to Find Twitter Cow

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A Democratic strategist and a law firm in Virginia have been pulled into a lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes over Twitter attacks the congressman says defamed him.

Subpoenas served by Steven Biss, Nunes’ lawyer, to Adam Parkhomenko and the Richmond-based Hawkins Law Firm seek information about contacts with and the identities of the users of @DevinCow and the shuttered @DevinNunesMom Twitter accounts. The subpoenaed parties, who aren’t named as defendants, have been called to provide the information sought by Nov. 30.

Nunes (R-Calif.) claims in a lawsuit he filed in the Virginia Circuit Court for Henrico County that San Francisco-based Twitter facilitated defamation against him and censored conservatives and viewpoints with which it disagrees. The lawsuit also targets the two parody accounts and Liz Mair, a political strategist who Nunes asserts “relentlessly smeared and defamed him” during his 2018 election campaign.

The congressman wants at least $250 million in damages.

In addition to seeking information about contacts with the Twitter account users, the subpoenas want Parkhomenko and the Hawkins firm to detail their interactions since March 19 with Mair, her political strategies firm, and other people about Nunes and the pending lawsuit.

Both Parkhomenko and Richard Hawkins, the law firm’s managing attorney, declined to comment on why they were being targeted.

Former Opponent Contacted

Biss also recently sent a demand letter to Andrew Janz, who ran against Nunes in 2018 and is running for the mayor of Fresno, Calif., in 2020. The letter calls on Janz to force @DevinCow to stop tweeting and apologize. Janz says he doesn’t control the Twitter account at issue.

“The Nunes saga has really become ridiculous as he has reinvented himself again as a national laughing stock by filing frivolous lawsuits,” Janz said in a Nov. 5 interview. Janz said the effort appears to be aimed at undermining his mayoral campaign and is requiring him to divert resources to defend himself from Nunes’ claims.

Nunes has filed separate defamation lawsuits against Mair and the Sacramento, Calif.-based newspaper publishing company McClatchy in another state court and against New York-based Hearst Magazines Inc. and reporter Ryan Lizza over an Esquire article in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

The Twitter lawsuit is Nunes v. Twitter, Va. Cir. Ct., No. CL 19-1715, subpoenas10/31/19

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew M. Ballard in Raleigh, N.C. at aballard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Kyle Trygstad at ktrygstad@bgov.com

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