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In October, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige dismissed Republican media consultant Donald Sipple’s $12.6 million libel suit against Mother Jones and contributing writer Richard Blow, ruling that the suit was not a legitimate grievance but a SLAPP (a strategic lawsuit against public participation).

SLAPPs are frivolous suits aimed at suppressing free speech—usually by tying up defendants in legal red tape for years—rather than seeking compensation for damages. Sipple, who has crafted ad campaigns for such GOP heavyweights as Bob Dole and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, had filed the suit in response to Blow’s article “The True Character of a Spin Doctor?” (September/ October 1997). The article detailed allegations that Sipple beat his two ex-wives.

Following the story’s release, Sipple resigned from Republican Vito Fossella’s congressional campaign in New York under pressure from the Democratic candidate (Fossella won the race in November); his longtime client Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said he would not hire Sipple for his 1998 re-election campaign; and many of Sipple’s clients, including Gov. Bush, said they would reconsider keeping him as an adviser.

Gary Bostwick, Sipple’s attorney, was quoted in the Washington Post saying he was “very disappointed and a little surprised” by the judge’s decision—which also required that Sipple pay a portion of Mother Jones‘ legal bills.

“This case was a continuation of the kind of abuse [Sipple] has dished out to his wives over the years. This is how bullies should be handled,” says Mother Jones lawyer Ed Davis of the decision. At press time, Sipple had not filed an appeal, but Bostwick has said that he intends to.

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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