Kimberly Klacik, a Republican candidate for Congress in Maryland, has filed a lawsuit against conservative media personality Candace Owens for $20 million. The suit alleges that Owens made defamatory statements about Klacik in a video posted on social media in June.
In the lawsuit, Klacik alleges that she lost a book deal and a contract with a “nationally recognized vendor.” She also states that as a result of Owens’ video, politicians canceled fundraising appearances.
On June 22, Owens posted a video on Instagram in which she made a series of unsubstantiated allegations against Klacik after the former congressional candidate criticized her rhetoric about the black community. In the video, she claimed Klacik’s charity was illegitimate and that she had been a stripper at a club owned by her husband. Owens also claimed an unnamed stripper at the club told her that Klacik used campaign funds to purchase illegal drugs. The media personality also intimated that Klacik had engaged in campaign finance violations. So far, Owens has provided no evidence supporting her accusations.
Klacik later published her own video on YouTube addressing Owens’ allegations and explaining why they were deceptive. She detailed the parts of her campaign spending that Owens suggested were illegal and pointed out that the Federal Elections Commission had already reviewed her campaign reports, as they do with each candidate, and found nothing that violated campaign finance law.
Klacik rose to national attention after one of her campaign videos went viral and was widely shared on social media. Former President Donald Trump also shared the video in which she is filmed walking through the streets of Baltimore discussing the city’s substandard living conditions. She was also tapped as a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2020.
The feud between the two began when Owens complained about Juneteenth being made a federal holiday, referring to it as “lame.” This take elicited criticism from Klacik as well as many others.
The suit states that Owens has refused to take down the Instagram video despite repeated written requests and that the commentator “continues to support and encourage the harassment” that Klacik is experiencing.
In her video, Owens also accuses Klacik of “money laundering, tax fraud, and campaign fraud.” She alleged that Klacik paid vendors to “move money off the books” and recruited strippers for the club her husband owns. The suit says:
Specifically, [Owens] affirmatively accused Ms. Klacik of tax fraud, campaign fraud, money laundering, illegal drug use, and acting as a ‘madame.’ There was no truth to the allegations.
The complaint also stated:
In making these allegations of criminal activity, [Owens] claimed to have received information from someone who ‘stripped with [Ms. Klacik]’ and who allegedly told [Owens] that Ms. Klacik used campaign funds to purchase cocaine and scammed people of millions. These caustic and made-up defamatory allegations are without factual support.
The former candidate’s attorney, Jacob Frenkel, told Law & Crime that “baseless character assassination has no place in political dialogue” and that Owens “chose to use her huge social media platform to attack a respected Baltimore political figure.”
I watched Owens’ video when she published it and it was clear she was reaching for anything that could be used to harm Klacik’s reputation. As stated previously, she has yet to provide actual proof that Klacik was engaged in any illegal activity.
Moreover, the fact that the FEC, whose job it is to bust candidates misusing funds, reviewed the same documentation and did not deem it to be worthy of an investigation further shows that Owens’ claims are false. Indeed, the Washington Post, which would have relished the opportunity to take Klacik down in a hit piece, didn’t even bring it up when they published their own reports on her.
Still, it is worth noting that it is not 100% clear whether Owens’ statements would be considered defamatory in a court of law. These types of lawsuits are notoriously difficult to win, especially when it concerns public figures. However, in some cases, they can be successful. Either way, what was a petty Twitter feud has now turned into a court case. We’ll see how this one turns out.