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Denver judge says former Dominion Voting employee's defamation suit can proceed

A judge ruled Eric Coomer's wide-ranging defamation suit can proceed against right-wing figures who claimed without evidence that he rigged the 2020 election.

DENVER — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump's campaign, two of its lawyers and a handful of conservative media figures and outlets.

District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses, in a 136-page decision, rejected various arguments to throw out the lawsuit filed by Eric Coomer, who was security director at the Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems. Coomer said he faced death threats after he was baselessly accused of trying to rig the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.

Moses wrote that “there is overwhelming evidence that an injunction would serve the public interest because the public is harmed by the spread of defamatory information.”

Coomer's lawsuit, filed in Denver County prior to Biden's inauguration, accused the Trump campaign and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell of spreading false stories about him. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, the website Gateway Pundit, Colorado conservative activist Joseph Oltmann and One America News Network were among the others sued.

The conservative news outlet Newsmax was dropped from Coomer's lawsuit in April 2021 after it apologized and aired a statement that it had found no evidence that the accusations made against him by Trump's team and supporters were true.

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COLORADO CONNECTIONS

Not only is Dominion Voting Systems based in Denver, but two of the defendants -- Joe Oltman and Michelle Malkin -- live in Colorado, as well.

The various claims made against former Dominion employee Eric Coomer hinge on similar points, as described in court documents:

"Coomer’s allegations against each defendant are generally the same: Defendants published false statements that 1) Coomer participated in an alleged Antifa conference call; 2) Coomer stated on that alleged call that he intended to subvert the 2020 presidential election; and 3) Coomer did subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election."

These allegations appear to have originated in Colorado with Oltmann's Conservative Daily Podcast.

"Allegations against Coomer first appeared a few days [after the 2020 presidential election] on November 9, 2020 and were first instigated by Oltmann," the court documents say.

In that podcast, Oltmann claimed to have infiltrated "an Antifa conference call with unknown and unverified participants." He said one of the people on the call, referred to as "Eric" and "the Dominion guy," told others that Trump would not win the election. Oltmann said he connected that to Coomer by searching Google.

Oltmann then searched Coomer's social media to find anti-Trump posts.

After days of discussing election fraud on his show, Oltmann "spontaneously" remembered the Antifa call, according to the court documents.

"The entire story appears, on its face, to be manufactured around Coomer’s Facebook posts, and deliberately crafted in a way to make it impossible to be verified by anyone attempting to investigate the veracity of Oltmann’s outlandish claims of Coomer’s involvement in the Antifa conference call," the documents say.

Per the lawsuit, Coomer alleges the statements, their amplification and the subsequent threats he received caused harm to his privacy, safety and reputation.

Oltmann is also a conservative businessman and activist who still holds sway in the Colorado Republican Party. He has suggested his political enemies should be hung for treason, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Senators, and journalists.

The judge's ruling also mentioned evidence that Oltmann "incited threats of real violence against Coomer by disclosing his home address, encouraging the public to find him... calling him a traitor, and calling for him to be put to death."

District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses also ruled Coomer's lawsuit may proceed against FEC United, Oltmann's political group with a militia wing.

The judge also allowed Coomer's suit to proceed against conservative commentator Malkin, saying evidence indicates she platformed Oltmann's claims that "conformed to a preconceived storyline of fraud given her allegations of fraud leading up to and after the election." 

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