Conservative pundit Candace Owens is facing a $20m defamation lawsuit which claims she smeared a fellow right-wing commentator with false allegations of drug use, fraud and working as a strip club “madame”.
Kimberly Klacik, a former Republican congressional candidate and regular on conservative news programmes, accused Ms Owens of sharing an insulting string of allegations in an Instagram video seen by thousands that she claims amounted to “character assassination,” part of a long-running feud between the two.
“Baseless character assassination has no place in political dialogue,” Ms Klacik’s attorney, Jacob S Frankel, told Law & Crime. “The defendant chose to use her huge social media platform to attack a respected Baltimore political figure; we are using the proper forum – the power of the courts – to respond.”
In June, Ms Owens, who hosts a podcast on conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire network, posted a clip in which she accused Ms Klacik of being a “madame” who laundered money, spent campaign funds on cocaine, and recruited strippers to work for a club she claimed the woman’s husband owns.
“These caustic and made-up defamatory allegations are without factual support,” the lawsuit, filed in July, reads.
The claims, however, were strong enough to damage Ms Klacik’s career, according to the legal action. After the video was posted, Ms Klacik says she lost a book deal, was removed from political fundraisers, lost a contract with a “nationally recognised vendor,” and saw her regular appearances on Fox News disappear.
A spokesperson for Ms Owens said a new video posted on her Instagram story contains “full proof” of the original allegations, many of which were “public knowledge before Candace stated it.”
“This lawsuit is meant to distract from Kimberly’s strange FEC filings which was the most important element of the video Candace did exposing her,” the spokesperson added.
The two media figures, two of the best known Black conservative women commentators, first began battling on Twitter in June, according to the complaint.
The day after Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday, Ms Owens made a post calling the celebration a form of “psychological warfare and perpetual brainwash” meant to make people “believe everything is racist.”
“Believe it or not, many in ‘Black America’ are very aware the fight is about classism rather [than] racism,” Ms Klacik wrote. “Unfortunately, the loudest mouths with the largest platforms represent the majority. This might come to a shock to you because of your lack of engagement with black people.”
Ms Klacik, a member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, first came to national attention last summer. During her unsuccessful 2020 race to fill the congressional seat of the late Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, the commentator posted a video lambasting Baltimore’s Democratic political leadership, much of which is Black, for the city’s problems.
Donald Trump eventually supported her campaign, and she was invited to the Republican National Convention, before she lost the race to Democrat Kweisi Mfume.
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