A “Brazen Attempt to Scare” Voting Rights Groups, Plaintiffs Respond to  Counter Claims in Colorado Voter Intimidation Lawsuit

On Thursday night, three defendants charged with voter intimidation in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Ku Klux Klan Act lashed out at voting rights organizations by suing them for “defamation” and “abuse of process.”

In the underlying lawsuit, ​​the Colorado Montana Wyoming State Area Conference of the NAACP (NAACP Colorado), League of Women Voters of Colorado (LWVCO), and Mi Familia Vota (MFV), charge an organization called the U.S. Election Integrity Plan and three of its founders with conducting an illegal voter intimidation campaign in Colorado.  The lawsuit names as defendants both USEIP itself and its founders Shawn Smith, Ashley Epp, and Holly Kasun, who are employees of My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, a prominent proponent of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election which have been repeatedly and thoroughly disproven as lies. The group’s agents, some of whom are armed, are using public voter lists to go door-to-door interrogating voters, demanding to know if they participated in the 2020 election, pressing them for information on how they cast their votes, questioning them about so-called fraudulent ballots, and taking photographs of their homes. USEIP’s “County & Local Organizing Playbook,” which sets forth USEIP’s principles and goals, makes clear that USEIP’s tactics include engaging in violent and intimidating behavior, and threatening and intimidating voters purportedly in order to support debunked claims of election fraud. The Colorado-based organization is reportedly expanding its operations to Arizona, Georgia, and New Hampshire ahead of the 2022 election. The plaintiffs are represented by co-lead counsel Free Speech For People and Lathrop GPM.

In Thursday’s filing, Smith, Epp, and Kasun filed counterclaims accusing the voting rights organizations of “defamation” and “abuse of process.” Smith, Epp, and Kasun demand monetary compensation from the voting rights organizations for, among other things, their “pain and suffering, humiliation and embarrassment.” They did not specify a specific dollar amount for their damage request.

“These baseless counterclaims are not only completely false, but legally barred,” said Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech For People. “It’s deeply ironic that an organization that furiously insists that it is not trying to intimidate any voters is now suing voting rights organizations to try to intimidate them from enforcing the Voting Rights Act. The voting rights organizations that launched this lawsuit won’t be intimidated by this brazen attempt to scare them away from enforcing voting rights laws.” 

The defendants’ filing is available here.