On May 4th, a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia Lieutenant Governor filed a defamation lawsuit against “Jane Doe,” after an anonymous text message was sent to convention delegates calling him a “gay Democrat.”
State Delegate Glenn Davis filed the lawsuit in Norfolk Circuit Court, a trial-level court in the state of Virginia. Davis is seeking $450,000 in total damages — $100,000 in nominal and compensatory damages, and $350,000 in punitive damages.
The complaint references the content of the text message, asserting that “[t]he statement ‘Did you know Glenn Davis is a Gay Democrat?’ was a false statement and known by the sender to be false at the time it was sent.” The complaint further notes that “[t]he statement ‘Help Glenn come out of the closet’ insinuates [that] the Plaintiff is homosexual[,] and was known to be a false statement by the sender at the time it was sent.”
According to Courthouse News, Davis’ attorney, Tim Anderson, said in a statement that the claim the candidate is gay amounts to defamation under Virginia state law, and that attacks like these have “no place in a modern day political race.”
Counsel for Davis filed a subpoena to compel a telecommunications service provider to reveal records associated with the telephone number from which the text message was sent. The circulation of the text message and the subsequent lawsuit occur against the backdrop of an upcoming Republican nominating convention for Virginia Lieutenant Governor on May 8th.
Davis released a statement on Twitter addressing the lawsuit, stating in part, “…Delegate Glenn Davis filed a lawsuit against ‘Jane Doe’ to begin the process of discovering the identity of the campaign and/or persons behind a libelous and illegal text message that went out last week referring to Delegate Davis as a ‘Gay Democrat.’ The text message violated Virginia Election law requirements and crossed the boundaries for a defamation violation.”