An attorney for an anonymous individual who made critical comments about Treasurer Connie Javens on the Beaver Countian website argues that his client was not wrong when he called her “crooked” and said she was “stealing tax money.”
Attorney Gerald Benyo filed a document with the court last Wednesday arguing that Treasurer Javens’ defamation lawsuit filed in May against anonymous Beaver Countian commenter John Q. Taxpayer and others has no merit, and that Javens’ attempt to force the Beaver Countian to reveal identifying information about the individual should be prevented by the court.
“Treasurer Javens is a thief as well as a crooked politician who stole public or taxpayer monies and illegally disbursed same to a private organization who was negotiating 5 and 6 figure contracts with Treasurer Javens’ family,” argued attorney Benyo as part of his brief, which has been circulating throughout the courthouse since being filed. Attorney Benyo asserts that using common everyday vernacular, his client’s comments about Javens were not inaccurate.
Although the Beaver Countian is not a named defendant in litigation filed against 6 anonymous commenters by Treasurer Connie Javens and her adult daughter Renee Zuk, attorneys for this publication have separately been fighting to protect the identities of the anonymous commenters and also filed documents with the court last week. Beaver Countian founder John Paul has vowed not to disclose any information to the two women.
The remaining 5 anonymous commenters are being represented by Pittsburgh attorney James Tallman, who filed a brief on behalf of his clients on Wednesday as well.
The Beaver Countian is publishing attorney Gerald Benyo’s brief as filed with the court in full below, which spells out in layman’s terms an argument for why John Q. Taxpayer’s comments should be considered protected free speech, and why the attempt by Treasurer Connie Javens to unmask his identity should be denied.
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF BEAVER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
CONNIE JAVENS and RENEE JAVENS ZUK v. JOHN DOES (1)-(6)
SECOND BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA
Treasurer Javens has targeted 6 commenters on the BeaverCountian magazine website as they are viewed as deadly enemies who must be stopped and destroyed as they pose a grave threat to her continued political life and those who benefit from her political position and power. Costumed as a “defamation action”, Treasurer Javens claims (after 25 years in political office during which she has developed an almost impenetrable hide), that she has been caused “mental anguish, sleepless nights and humiliation” and deserves compensation due to 5 comments posted by John Q Taxpayer. In truth, Treasurer Javens has targeted John Q Taxpayer to obtain his identity so that she can retaliate using her political power and influence and silence him from exercising his First Amendment Constitutional Right to express “core political speech”.
An informed, vocal electorate is Treasure Javens’ kryptonite and the BeaverCountian has delivered truckloads of the precious mineral to the Beaver County Courthouse by publishing multiple investigative articles concerning Treasurer Javens’ actions as an elected official. Commenters (anonymous and those who bravely identify themselves) have in turn carried the kryptonite into every crevice of the Treasurer’s Office and distributed it throughout every political ward in Beaver County.
Treasurer Javens has a desperate need to learn the identity of the anonymous commenters so as to use her influence and political power, along with the threat of financial ruin through litigation, if commenters on the BeaverCountian magazine website continue to criticize her job performance or keep questioning her involvement with illegally transferring $1.6 million from county bank accounts to a private entity -who has made 5 and 6 figure contracts with members of the Javens family. Treasurer Javens regularly refers to this private entity as “her boys from New York”.
This litigation is the latest attempt by Treasurer Javens to silence those citizens and taxpayers who question her actions as Beaver County Treasurer and publicize the benefits that accrue to those around her at the expense of the public taxer payer. This is not Treasurer Javens first attempt at using her political power and influence to silence her BeaverCountian commenter critics. Prior attempts include attempting to have criminal charges filed against commenters for harassment among other crimes (which resulted in a criminal investigation being launched by the Beaver County Detective Bureau) and demanding that the Beaver County Adult Probation Department threaten a commenter who was on probation with possible incarceration through a probation violation unless the negative comments made against Treasurer Javens were immediately removed.
Treasurer Javens specifically identified 5 comments by John Q. Taxpayer to articles published in the BeaverCountian magazine website which reported on her actions as Treasurer of Beaver County and the sale of Friendship Ridge – a county owned nursing and geriatric facility. The 3 separate articles are attached hereto Exhibits “A”, “B” and “C”.
At the November 14, 2016 Hearing, the Court specifically reviewed all 5 of John Q Taxpayer’s comments and focused upon Treasurer Javens’ allegation that such comments contained defamation per se in the form of alleging she committed a “criminal offense” or presumably “business misconduct”. If Treasurer Javens as a public official can allege such defamation per se, then she contends that she does not need to prove any special harm or damage.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of “steal” is to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of “thief” is one that steals especially stealthily or secretly; also one who commits theft or larceny.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of “crooked” is not straight or dishonest < a crooked politician >.
As a layperson, John Q. Taxpayer should not be judged or held to the standards of legal definitions (such as “Theft” in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code) when making his opinions, comments and observations known as to Treasurer Javens during his exercise of “core political speech”. As with most citizens, John Q Taxpayer speaks the vernacular of everyday life – not of a legal scholar or seasoned prosecutor. Thus, John Q Taxpayer cannot be said to have made observations and comments constituting defamation per se, but instead expressed his personal opinions bluntly, clearly and with some explicit language and hyperbole.
In the common vernacular, Treasurer Javens did take the property of taxpayers wrongfully and did it as a habitual or regular practice and thus did “steal”.
In the common vernacular, Treasurer Javens is a “thief” as she secretly and unilaterally made millions of dollars of withdrawals from county owned bank accounts that did not belong to her without authorization from anyone else in county government and did give those millions to a private entity – Comprehensive Health. Treasurer Javens did so for unexplained reasons, unilaterally and without consideration of whether such monies should have been disbursed. This has resulted in Beaver County taxpayers being forced to spend $25,000 on a forensic audit and, after the results of the audit were returned, most likely having to hire attorneys to litigate to attempt to recover at least $1.6 million illegally transferred by Treasurer Javens to Comprehensive Health.
Finally, in the common vernacular, Treasurer Javens meets the definition of “crooked” as she did not engage in “straight dealing” or honest transparency in discharging her duties as County Treasurer and by every appearance was dishonest in making multiple secret, unilateral cash withdrawals from county owned bank accounts which she used to purchase money orders she hand delivered to a private entity (Comprehensive Health) – which were awarding lucrative 5 and 6 figure contracts to her family members. The crookedness and dishonesty has been further illustrated by Treasurer Javens refusal to participate in the audit of the Friendship Ridge sale commissioned by Beaver County, her refusal to cooperate with Beaver County Commissioners and the Controller as to why she unilaterally withdrew millions from county bank accounts without authorization and finally her refusal to make herself available to the taxpaying public to answer questions concerning her conduct as an elected official and Treasurer of Beaver County.
Beyond using a common man’s words and a common man’s understanding of the definition of such words, John Q Taxpayer was legally “spot dead on” when classifying Treasurer Javens conduct as being illegal. In fact, now, there is no doubt that pursuant to the Pennsylvania County Code, Treasurer Javens acted illegally in disbursing $6 million to Comprehensive Health.
Under the Pennsylvania County Code, the County Commissioners and Treasurer are responsible to designate depositories (banks) for county monies. 16 P.S. §1762(a). For example, Citizens Bank is a designated county depository as established by Resolution 121305-62 adopted by the Board of Commissioners on December 13, 2005. The bank account was titled and held in the name of Beaver County – not Connie Javens or Comprehensive Health.
The Pennsylvania County Code provides withdrawals from a designated depository account (such as PNC Bank or Citizen’s Bank) are made by the Treasurer “upon properly authorized checks … which have been specifically approved by the Board of Commissioners”. 16 P.S. §1762(b). There is no authorization for the County Treasurer to make cash withdrawals or purchase money orders to remove monies from a county bank account as was done on multiple instances by Treasurer Javens.
The procedure set by Pennsylvania County Code has the County Controller submit to the Board of Commissioners all bills, claims and demands approved by him. Two signatures from the Board of Commissioners are then required before the check for payment of any bill, claim or demand is then sent back to the County Controller for signature and then (AND ONLY THEN) are the checks forwarded to the County Treasurer for signature. 16 P.S. §1751 specifically provides the County Treasurer SHALL NOT sign any check not already signed by two Commissioners and Controller.
Finally, the Pennsylvania County Code provides that any withdrawals by the Treasurer from a county depository (such as PNC Bank or Citizens Bank) SHALL ONLY be on a properly authorized check SPECIFICALLY APPROVED BY THE COMMISSIONERS. 16 P.S. §1762(c). Again, there is no authorization for the County Treasurer to legally make cash withdrawals or to purchase money orders to disburse monies from a county owned bank account.
In addition to Exhibit A, Exhibit D, Exhibit E and Exhibit F are attached hereto. All are articles from the BeaverCountian magazine which contain copies of withdraw tickets or slips (not properly authorized checks) that were illegally used to withdraw taxpayer or public monies from designated depository accounts without the necessary signatures of two of the Board of Commissioners and the County Controller. These documents alone conclusively establish that Treasurer Javens acted illegally and unilaterally and secretly to wrongfully take the property of another (the public taxpayer) as a habitual or regular practice when Treasurer Javens (after having over 20 years as an elected Treasurer) knew such actions were not “straight” and had every indication of dishonesty.
It is a proven fact Treasurer Javens committed acts that bring into question her handling of county owned bank accounts. Deposit slips and other documents evidence that Treasurer Javens made multiple secret, unilateral cash withdrawals from county owned bank accounts which were used to purchase money orders that were illegally disbursed (and in fact hand delivered by her) to a private entity. After reviewing these facts as published in media, John Q Taxpayer publicly commented and expressed his opinion characterizing Treasurer Javens’ actions as “stealing tax money”, “committing crimes and violating codes”, “taking money on her own and without authorization from anyone else and no record of it”, “crooked” and being a “con artist” – and John Q Taxpayer was correct in his assessment.
Thus, under the Pennsylvania Code, and through use of the common laypersons vernacular, Treasurer Javens is a thief as well as a crooked politician who stole public or taxpayer monies and illegally disbursed same to a private organization who was negotiating 5 and 6 figure contracts with Treasurer Javens’ family. A fact that both the former and present Beaver County District Attorneys have investigated pending the filing of criminal charges – as reported in numerous media articles.
At the November 14, 2016 Hearing, the Court considered whether Treasurer Javens had to provide any evidence of damages. Undersigned Counsel also advised the Court that: (1) it would be proper to consider not only if Treasurer Javens had any provable evidence damages, but whether any damages that were even claimed were recognized as proper damages for a public figure in a defamation action; and (2) whether any direct causation for any alleged damages could be established as to the 5 comments made by John Q Taxpayer.
By definition “defamation” is a communication which tends to harm an individual’s reputation so as to lower him or her in the estimate of the community or deter third persons from associating or dealing with him or her. Stated another way, a communication is considered “defamatory” if it tends to harm the reputation of another so as to lower him or her in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him or her, and it is not enough that the victim be embarrassed or annoyed; he or she must have suffered the kind of harm which has grievously fractured his standing in the community of respectable society.
Through her Affidavit, Treasurer Javens alleges John Q Taxpayer was “defamatory” to her as a public figure as the 5 identified comments above “caused mental anguish, sleepless nights and humiliation”. These same 5 comments by John Q. Taxpayer have caused Treasurer Javens’ “Friends and family … inquiring as to why [she] is being called names and accused of stealing money and embezzling from the County and also receiving bribes” – all of which “is a total lie”. These 5 comments by John Q Taxpayer also caused Treasure Javens to be “continually begin stopped at work, in the stores, banks, etc. and questioned about [her] conduct as Treasurer”.
Nowhere in Treasurer Javens’ Affidavit is it alleged her reputation has been harmed in the general community (it is just her “Friends and family” inquiring as to why she is being called names and accused of stealing money and embezzling from the County. Nor does she allege that her standing in the community (or her estimation as an honorable citizen in the community) has been harmed to the extent that third persons are deterred from associating or dealing with her. In fact, except for being embarrassed, humiliated and having mental anguish and sleepless nights, no other damages are claimed beyond the audacity of taxpayers and members of the public asking questions about her conduct as the elected Treasurer of Beaver County.
To prove defamation, it must be shown that the alleged defamatory statement “tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third parties from associating or dealing with him. Tucker v. Philadelphia Daily News, 577 Pa. 598, 848 A.3d 113 (2004). “It is not enough that the victim of the statements be embarrassed or annoyed, he must have suffered the kind of harm which has grievously fractured his standing in the community of respectable society”. Whether the contested statements are capable of defamatory meaning is a question of law for the Court. Tucker, supra at 123. Under Tucker, Treasurer Javens’ claim of embarrassment or annoyances along with sleepless nights is not enough to sustain the proof she needs for damages to allow this litigation to continue.
In Joseph v. Scranton Times L.P., 129 A.3d 404 (2015), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania opined:
- “The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the common law rule of presumed damages is incompatible with the First Amendment freedoms and therefore unconstitutional. … As such, it is incumbent upon [defamation] plaintiffs to establish a causal connection between the negligently published falsehood and the actual injuries which they have suffered. … (“Defamation is a legal cause of special harm to the person defamed if … it is a substantial factor in bringing about the harm …) Pa. Suggested Standard Jury Instruction (Civil) §17.190 (4th Edition 2013) (“A false and defamatory communication is a cause of injury if the harm would not have occurred absent the communication. A false and defamatory communication is not a cause of injury if it has no connection or only an insignificant connection with the injury.)
Causation of any “damages” claimed by Treasurer Javens is a significant problem for the continuation of this case. The simple fact is that John Q Taxpayer did not cause Treasurer Javens issues or “problems”. The only person that caused Treasurer Javens’ issues is, was and has been Treasurer Javens – and she did this by violating the Pennsylvania County Code by secretly making unilateral withdrawals from county depositories and having money orders issued to a private entity that was providing lucrative contracts to her children. This was reported not by John Q Taxpayer (who has at best limited following or no following in the discussion group commenters on the BeaverCountian magazine website) but by the BeaverCountian itself. Treasurer Javens has not filed any litigation against the BeaverCountian magazine website or John Paul even though it was his investigative reporting that led to the comments made by all 6 “John Does”. Treasurer Javens has not even attempted to identify any of the investigative reporting that was factually incorrect. Treasurer Javens is her own source of defamation and she has unilaterally and voluntarily caused injury to herself.
It was Treasurer Javens that failed to follow the Pennsylvania County Code in withdrawing monies from county bank accounts and secretly disbursing approximately $6 million to a private entity. This was illegal under the Pennsylvania County Code and not only did Treasurer Javens (as a 20-year veteran Treasurer) know that she was acting illegally, she did it at a time when the private entity who received the secretly illegally distributed monies was negotiating 5 and 6 figure annual contracts with Treasurer Javens family members and she was in the political battle for her political life against Thomas Leydig. Treasurer Javens is a weathered politician who knew that the appearance of impropriety alone caused by her actions, if exposed, would be extremely uncomfortable, unexplainable and massively unfavorable – and she took that chance voluntarily by acting illegally and massively overpaying Comprehensive Health in what appears to a vast majority of the public (including John Q Taxpayer) to assist her family and political allies financially.
It was Treasurer Javens who decided to refuse to answer questions posed by the current Board of Commissioners as to the withdrawal of monies from county designated bank accounts contrary to the Pennsylvania County Code.
It was Treasurer Javens who is now under criminal investigation by the Beaver County District Attorney (an investigation started by the prior Democratic District Attorney) for her unilateral actions in secretly withdrawing and disbursing over $6 million from county owned bank accounts contrary to the Pennsylvania County Code. The current Beaver County District Attorney has publicly stated that Treasurer Javens has violated the County Code and that such acts may constitute criminal acts.
It is Treasurer Javens who has refused to comment or explain why she unilaterally disbursed $6 million from county designated bank accounts when at least $1.4 million of such monies belonged to Beaver County as confirmed not only by the Beaver County Controller but also the 2016 Audit commissioned by the Board of Commissioners – which she refused to participate in despite being the elected public official in charge of the Beaver County Treasurer’s office.
It is Treasurer Javens who refused to cooperate with the Beaver County Controller to reconcile the amount of monies overpaid to Comprehensive Health or explain or justify why the Controller’s Office was not provided any information as to why secret unilateral cash withdrawals were being made by Treasurer Javens contrary to the Pennsylvania County Code and for the benefit of Comprehensive Health.
It was Treasurer Javens who refused to provide an explanation to the Beaver County Controller as to why she chose to withdraw cash and then purchase and disburse monies through money order rather than regular check issued by the Beaver County Controller’s Office in accordance with the Pennsylvania County Code.
The Beaver County Commissioners commissioned an audit concerning the monies withdrawn by Treasurer Javens – which cost the taxpayers an additional $25,000. This audit revealed at least $1.4 million was improperly disbursed by Treasurer Javens to Comprehensive Health when, in fact, such monies belonged to the taxpayers of Beaver County. Beaver County Controller Rossi, Financial Administrator Rickardo Luckow and County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi all fully cooperated with the auditors retained by the Beaver County Commissioners. Treasurer Javens continues to refuse to cooperate with the auditors employed by the Commissioners.
In December 2015, Treasurer Javens refused to provide the Beaver County Commissioners with any explanation to justifying her unilateral withdrawal of $5,900,000 in cash from county owned bank accounts and purchasing money orders hand delivered to Comprehensive Health.
Treasurer Javens has not made any public statements or accountings justifying her actions in withdrawing cash from county bank accounts and having money orders purchased and then personally hand delivered to Comprehensive Health. In fact, Treasurer Javens has refused to speak at any public meetings concerning the 2017 County Budget and its $17 million deficit. Treasurer Javens has however three sets of attorneys who are advising her as to these legal issues – a criminal defense attorney, a civil attorney and her solicitor.
The Beaver County Controller and the Beaver County Commissioners have confirmed that Treasurer Javens’ transactions with Comprehensive Health were not authorized, were not signed off on as required by the Pennsylvania County Code and were made without either entering the transaction in any county computer system or notifying any other county elected or administrative official of the release of monies by making cash withdrawals, purchasing money orders and hand delivering same to Comprehensive Health. Treasurer Javens has not denied any of these findings.
Again, it is the above actions of Treasurer Javens that have harmed her reputation in the community and not the 5 comments cited and attributed to John Q Taxpayer. Further, even negating Treasurer Javens own self-immolation, as a matter of law the Court must take note of the thousands of comments made by private citizens and taxpayers this year (both anonymous and identified) that chastise and castigate Treasurer Javens for her conduct and thus it is impossible to separate the negativity caused by others to that which may have been caused by the 5 comments made by John Q Taxpayer in 3 separate BeaverCountian magazine articles. John Q Taxpayer was not the “straw that broke the camel’s back” as to Treasurer Javens’ reputation – he was simply one of hundreds and thousands of citizens and taxpayers who exercised the right to express disgust in layman’s terms as to the illegal and self-serving actions as they appeared in the multiple articles published by the BeaverCountian magazine.
Finally, it should also be noted that John Q Taxpayer acted as a commenter to the BeaverCountian and the justifiable harm to Treasurer Javens caused (if any) by John Q Taxpayer is nil compared to the devastating and repeated broadsides inflicted upon Treasurer Javens by the articles published by BeaverCountian itself. Treasurer Javens has no special or actual damages and no proof of any causation that any of the 5 comments made by John Q Taxpayer resulted in any damage to her whatsoever. Again, it is not damages that Treasurer Javens seeks in this litigation but the identity of her detractors and the ability to demonstrate that any taxpayer who criticizes or questions her will be subject to retaliation.
In light of the above facts as reported in the BeaverCountian and other media, as a taxpayer and citizen of a cash-strapped and broke Beaver County, John Q Taxpayer has simply exercised his 1st Amendment Right to Free “core political” speech to make his personal opinion known as to a matter of extreme public importance – that opinion being that an elected public official secretly and unilaterally withdrawing millions of dollars in cash from county bank accounts and then purchasing and hand delivering money orders to an entity which had entered into at least 3 lucrative contracts with that official’s family is “stealing tax money” and “committing crimes and violating codes”.
John Q Taxpayer has every right to express his opinion publicly on issues of “core political speech” as to an elected public official. Treasurer Javens is an admitted “public figure” who voluntarily committed the actions that have led to widespread criticism and vilification. Treasurer Javens is now reaping what she has sown.
Historically, since the founding of this republic, speech has been protected because it promotes the free exchange of ideas, which is necessary to discovery the truth, self-govern, check governmental power, and protect individual autonomy and liberties. These same concerns apply to speech on the internet and can be used to justify extending First Amendment protections to anonymous online speakers. Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1977).
The internet represents a new medium of communication and anonymous “bloggers” or commenters may be considered the “modern day equivalent of the revolutionary pamphleteer who passed out news bulletins on the street corner. Courts and commentators agree that anonymous online speech should be protected because the values inherent in promoting free speech continue to apply in an online context, the justification that exist for restricting anonymous speech in other contexts do not apply to online speech, and the government should protect speakers’ legitimate expectation of privacy.
The Court should recognize and consider that disclosing the identity of anonymous commenters raises concerns as if governmental actions diminish speaker’s expectations of privacy, speakers are more likely to restrain their speech, thereby resulting in a chilling effect that deprives individuals of their constitutional right to free speech and to speak anonymously. In Beaver County there is only one place that an average citizen with a smart phone or computer with internet connection can voice their opinion on Beaver County government and public officials without being censored – and that place is the BeaverCountian magazine website.
In fact, encouraging broad speech protection, specifically with anonymous speech, helps promote the truth-seeking function by allowing individuals to express themselves without fear that they may be harassed, socially ostracized or that they may lose their jobs. Further, anonymity helps ensure that the merits or vale of the speaker’s message is not discounted, stereotyped, or prejudged by others.
In fact, promoting anonymous free speech provides a check on governmental power because it allows citizens to voice their grievances or note when public officials behave in a manner that is unacceptable to their constituents. Online commenting and free speech on the internet can help connect the public and promote pluralism by allowing separate and apart individuals with divergent life experiences to share ideas and thus promote pluralism by allowing the online conversation to reach a broader audience that would otherwise be regulated to self-thought and core political discussions within a limited social circle of likeminded acquaintances. The BeaverCountian provides a megaphone to individual citizens and taxpayers to comment on the elected officials who govern them and decide through taxation what amount of property should be taken from their labors.
The civil action brought against John Q Taxpayer is an attempt by an elected public official to not only smother widespread public criticism of Treasurer Javens’ conduct as Beaver County Treasurer, it is an attempt to thwart the investigative reporting of John Paul and publication of the BeaverCountian – which at the present time has 2,996 Twitter Followers, 21,999 Facebook Fans and over 49,768 user comments. Testimony established that a circulation of between 40,000 to 60,000 unique individuals use the BeaverCountian to learn of the actions of their elected officials and other events in Beaver County.
The BeaverCountian is in the only forum in Beaver County that is easily available to the citizens, voters and taxpayers of Beaver County to inform themselves and protest and attempt to redress the constant stream of revelations of improprieties that continue to arise out of the Beaver County Courthouse and surround the elected officials of Beaver County and those privileged few with governmental positions of power and influence within the county. The BeaverCountian has brought light into areas of Beaver County Government which have been in total darkness from the public for decades. This is painful for the political corrupt and political elite. The BeaverCountian is the voice of the average “Joe” and “Jane” in Beaver County who are tired of dysfunctional local government, public employee incompetence and political self-dealing and patronage.
It is further opined by undersigned that the BeaverCountian provides a transparency in local government that did not exist 6 years ago, and the comment section of the BeaverCountian effectively polices itself and unsubstantiated claims, overly vicious statements and improper commenting is often attacked and refuted by the hundreds or thousands of other participating commenters.
It is also noted that Treasurer Javens fails to file defamation actions against any of the other commenters on the BeaverCountian that have used their own name and are easily identifiable as having made comments similar to those of John Q Taxpayer – and, in fact, some of the identifiable commenters have made comments that greatly exceed the hyperbole, opinions, observations and conclusions set forth in John Q Taxpayer’s 5 comments.
Allowing this lawsuit to continue based upon the pleadings of Treasurer Javens will only stifle free “core political” speech in Beaver County. Not only is this improper under Pennsylvania law, it would be devastating to Beaver County. Bluntly stated, Treasurer Javens’ filing of the Motion For Issuance Of A Subpoena is designed to chill core political free speech that criticizes her rather than assert any legitimate cause of action for defamation that has any possibility of success as to John Q Taxpayer.