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Voting company sues Fox News, Giuliani and Powell for $2.7 billion alleging ‘disinformation campaign’

Lawsuit argues network and its guests conspired to promote falsities amid growing pressure from conservative networks to go along with the former president’s conspiracy theories

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 04 February 2021 18:41 GMT
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A voting technology company has filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and attorney Sidney Powell, after the network ran numerous reports which alleged the firm conspired with Venezuela’s socialist government to steal the 2020 elections from former President Donald Trump

Smartmatic USA filed the libel suit — one of the largest of its kind — on Thursday in a New York state court. The 248-page complaint detailed segments aired by Fox News in which prominent conservatives like Lou Dobbs falsely accused the company of vote rigging. 

The voting tech company only operated in Los Angeles county, California, while other major voting companies like Dominion Voting Systems, which operated in 24 states throughout the election, also announced lawsuits against Fox News and close allies of the former president. 

Dominion Voting Systems sued Mr Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and close confidant, as well as Ms Powell, for $1.3 billion. 

The Smartmatic USA lawsuit argued the network and its guests conspired as part of a “disinformation campaign” amid growing pressure from conservative networks to go along with the former president’s conspiracy theories. 

"Defendants' story was a lie," the complaint stated. "But it was a story that sold."

The complaint also alleged that Fox hosts Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro also directly benefitted from their involvement in the conspiracy. The lawsuit alleged that Fox went along with the "well-orchestrated scheme" due to pressure from newcomer outlets such as Newsmax and One America News, which were stealing away conservative, pro-Trump viewers.

For Smartmatic, the effects of the negative publicity were swift and devastating, the complaint alleges. Death threats, including against an executive's 14-year-old son, poured in as Internet searches for the company surged, Smartmatic claims. With several client contracts in jeopardy, the company estimatesd that it will lose as much as $690 million in profits over the next five years.

It also expected it will have to boost spending by $4.7 million to fend off what it called a "meteoric rise" in cyberattacks.

Like many conspiracy theories, the alleged campaign against Smartmatic was built on a grain of truth.

Mugica is Venezuelan and Smartmatic's initial success is partly attributable to major contracts from Hugo Chavez's government, an early devotee of electronic voting. No evidence has emerged that the company rigged votes in favor of the anti-American firebrand, and for a while the Carter Center and other observers held out Venezuela as a model of electronic voting. Meanwhile, the company has expanded globally.

Smartmatic is represented by J. Erik Connolly, who previously won what's believed to be the largest settlement in American media defamation, at least $177 million, for a report on ABC News describing a company's beef product as "pink slime."

"Very rarely do you see news organization go day after day after day the same targets," Mr Connolly said in an interview. "We couldn't possibly have rigged this election because we just weren't even in the contested states to do the rigging."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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