The Jolt: Roy Moore threatens lawsuit over report that he dated a 14-year-old

A flurry of Democratic activists across the nation were posting on social media about their plans to trek to Alabama to help Doug Jones, the once-longshot U.S. Senate contender whose fortunes may have shifted with a Washington Post reported on Republican Roy Moore's history of dating teenage girls.

But Howard Dean, the ex-Democratic National Committee chair

Explore, on Sunday offered a note of caution:

"Alabama is not a place to bring in a lot of Yankees to tell them what they need to do." His advice instead was to send cash. (Greg Bluestein)

***

Moore said Sunday a lawsuit would be filed over the newspaper report, which alleged he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl four decades ago, when he was a 32-year-old bachelor.

From the Associated Press:

"Why would they come now? Because there are groups that don't want me in the United States Senate," he said, naming the Democratic Party and the Republican establishment and accusing them of working together. He added, "We do not plan to let anybody deter us from this race."

***

Axios reports that Steve Bannon has sent a pair of Breitbart News' top reporters, Matt Boyle and Aaron Klein, to discredit the Washington Post's reporting on Moore.

***

But NBC News underlines the notion that actual facts may not matter. Here's a closing paragraph in a report from Gallant, Ala., where Moore grew up:

Inside the store, a man who declined to give his name said, "This is Republican town, man. (Moore) could have killed Obama, and we wouldn't care."

***

Should Moore file his lawsuit, this wouldn't be the first time Alabama has been the venue for a ground-breaking court battle between politicians and the press.

In the 1960s, during the fight over segregation, the New York Times was sued by Lester Bruce Sullivan, the Montgomery, Ala., public safety commissioner, over an ad soliciting funds to defend the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. against an Alabama tax-perjury indictment. Sullivan said errors contained in the advertisement were derogatory.

ExploreWe’ve written about it before.

In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court found for the newspaper, establishing a new bar in libel suits involving public figures. The “actual malice” standard requires that the plaintiff prove that the publisher of the statement in question knows that a statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of the facts.

It’s a standard that still applies, and will most likely be the reason that Moore, in the end, won’t go to court.

***

Yes, former Georgia congressman Tom Price left his job as Health and Human Services secretary in September, but Politico.com reports that the investigation into his use of private jets continues – and threatens to swallow up others:

Price’s use of corporate jets appears to run afoul of federal regulations stating that private travel should be approved only when commercial flights aren’t feasible, and the inspector-general probe is likely to put a spotlight on HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration John Bardis, the official designated in department rules as overseeing the travel approval process along with the HHS general counsel’s office.

***

Ryan Graham, a Libertarian challenging Republican Chuck Eaton's re-election bid to the state Public Service Commission next year, has weighed in on the Plant Vogtle issue. From the press release:

The [PSC] should only approve the project if Georgia Power and its partners can secure funding from sources other than captive ratepayers. Investors should voluntarily take on the risk, holding Georgia Power and contractors accountable for completion of the project on time and on budget.

***

A hearty congratulations to former Georgia congressman John Barrow, now a Democratic candidate for secretary of state. He tied the knot this weekend. He married Angele Hawkins, the founder of a workforce development nonprofit, at Summerour Studio in northwest Atlanta. (GB)