|Born||Larry Elliot Klayman|
July 20, 1951
|Education||Harriton High School Rosemont, Pennsylvania (1969)|
|Alma mater||Duke University (1974)|
Emory University Law School (1977)
Larry Elliot Klayman (born July 20, 1951) is an American right-wing activist lawyer and former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who has been called a "Clinton nemesis" for his dozens of lawsuits against the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s. He is the founder of Judicial Watch and self-styled government watchdog group Freedom Watch.
In addition to his lawsuits against the Clinton Administration, Klayman has filed a number of lawsuits against political figures and governmental agencies. Klayman's goal in initiating the lawsuits is often to obtain information through the discovery process, rather than winning the lawsuit. Most cases brought by Judicial Watch or Klayman himself fail.
Critics have described him as "gadfly," and "a racist, a frivolous litigator and a conspiracy theorist." Klayman is a "birther," and submitted a petition to deport President Barack Obama. His aggressive behavior has led to criticism and sanctions from legal authorities including a ban from appearing in one court.
Education and career
Klayman founded Judicial Watch in 1994. During his tenure, Judicial Watch filed several lawsuits against Bill Clinton and his presidential administration.
Klayman left Judicial Watch to pursue political office. In 2004, Klayman ran for the United States Senate from Florida but lost in the United States Republican Party primary, finishing seventh out of eight candidates. After his run for the U.S. Senate, Klayman formed Freedom Watch. He says the name originated from an episode of The West Wing in which he was caricatured as Harry Claypool.
He was born to Jewish parents, and identifies himself as "both a Jew and a Christian".
Klayman has a reputation for his aggressive legal tactics; for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center has described him as "pathologically litigious". Although he has a poor record of winning cases, his lawsuits have often resulted in the release of previously undisclosed documents which themselves generate new scandals. He has been blamed for changing the tone of partisan investigations in Washington D.C.. In the 90s, Klayman deposed several White House officials, probing James Carville about his television habits, Paul Begala about his priest, and George Stephanopoulos about his traffic tickets. Carville publicly described Klayman as a "little twerp" and Klayman responded by questioning him about the statement during a deposition.
Sanctions and discipline imposed
Following Klayman's behavior in a 1992 trial in California federal court, Judge William Keller barred him from his courtroom for life. Five years later, in a separate case in New York, Klayman's behavior led then district judge Denny Chin to issue a lifetime ban on the attorney practicing law before him.
In 2007, Klayman received a $25,000 retainer from a Daytona Beach woman facing criminal charges and she accused him of not providing legal services in return. The Florida Bar Association mediated the matter and Klayman agreed to pay off a small portion within 90 days, but after the deadline lapsed he was reprimanded by the association.
In 2014, Klayman agreed to be publicly censured by the D.C. Bar. Klayman represented three individuals who had sued Judicial Watch, his former employer and client, but he failed to obtain Judicial Watch's consent to waive his conflict of interest. Klayman maintained that the bar "recognized there was no evidence of dishonesty or personal gain". In June 2017, however, the discipline committee recommended that Klayman be suspended from practicing law for 90 days. The disciplinary matter remains pending before D.C. Court of Appeals.
Through Judicial Watch, Klayman filed around 18 lawsuits against the Clinton presidential administration, alleging ethical misconduct and criminal activity. In one case, a federal judge ruled that Clinton violated the Privacy Act when he released personal letters between him and a female White House volunteer. The woman had appeared on national television accusing him of making improper sexual advances, and Clinton claimed he released the letters to discredit her. The judge determined this was an act of criminal intent, but that ruling was called "inappropriate" by the appellate court.
Klayman represented Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to be one of Bill Clinton's mistresses, in a defamation suit against Hillary Clinton. Klayman also represented Dolly Kyle, another woman who claimed to be a mistress of Bill Clinton, in her unsuccessful lawsuit against him.
In 2012, Klayman represented Freedom Watch in its FOIA request to obtain various federal agencies' documents. During the course of litigation, Klayman sought access to Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server, but the courts denied his request.
In 2015, Klayman filed a racketeering lawsuit against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation, alleging Hillary Clinton sold access to U.S. government officials in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Later that year, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit.
In the wake of the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers, Klayman filed a lawsuit against Obama, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and some of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, alleging they had incited a "race war" that led to the shooting. Klayman amended the complaint to include a Dallas police officer as a plaintiff, and to add Hillary Clinton and George Soros as defendants. Later that year, Klayman filed a similar suit on behalf of the father of one of the slain officers. In 2017, a federal district court dismissed the first lawsuit.
In 2016, Klayman, on behalf of family members of two people killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, sued Hillary Clinton for wrongful death and defamation. In 2017, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit. In 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
In 2012, Klayman filed on behalf of a Florida resident an unsuccessful challenge to Barack Obama's placement on the primary ballot and claimed the president is not a natural-born citizen as required by the Constitution.
In 2012, Klayman represented the presidential candidate for the Constitution Party and a member of the Alabama Republican party, who alleged the Alabama Secretary of State had a duty to investigate Obama's eligibility. The trial court dismissed the complaint, and the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal. Chief Justice Roy Moore and another justice dissented, arguing the Secretary of State did have the authority to conduct such an investigation. Two other justices wrote concurring opinions that supported the dismissal and addressed the dissenting opinions.
In 2013, a citizen grand jury formed by Klayman "indicted" Obama and others of various crimes (including involuntary manslaughter), "convicted" Obama of fraud, and alleged the president forged his birth certificate in order to pass eligibility requirements.
On October 13, 2013, during the US government shutdown, Klayman declared at a conservative rally in Washington, D.C. that "This president is not a president of We the People; he’s a president of his people", urged the crowd to begin a "second American non-violent Revolution", and demanded that President Obama "put the Quran down ... [and] figuratively come out with his hands up." Weeks later, Klayman sponsored a "Reclaim America" rally in Lafayette Square across from the White House, calling for the president's removal. Klayman stated that if Obama did not resign, conservative activists would meet to establish a "shadow government". Klayman had encouraged "millions to occupy Washington D.C.," but reported attendance was between 130 and 200.
Klayman also sued the National Security Agency in Klayman v. Obama. In 2013, Klayman sued the Obama administration over the collection of phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA). A federal judge agreed with Klayman that the surveillance program was likely unconstitutional, but stayed an injunction pending an appeal by the United States government. The ACLU and Senator Rand Paul had filed similar cases, but Klayman's was the only one to gain a favorable court ruling. In 2015, however, the D.C. Circuit vacated the injunction, ruling that Klayman had failed to show that his own records had been collected. Later in 2015, the district court enjoined the NSA from collecting data about Klayman's client, a California lawyer who had recently been added to the lawsuit, but the D.C. Circuit court stayed enforcement of the injunction. In 2017, the district court dismissed the lawsuit. The court noted, "Klayman accused this Court of being ‘coopted by the so called ‘Deep State’’ into ruling against him. Unfortunately for plaintiffs, such baseless accusations are no substitute for a well-pleaded complaint."
Klayman has had several other dismissed suits against Obama, including a lawsuit alleging that the Obama administration had secretly allowed the Ebola virus to enter the United States to harm people of the "Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion;" a suit to block actions taken by the Obama administration regarding gun control; a lawsuit to block the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015; and a suit against Obama and others for inciting airport protests at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Other legal actions filed by Klayman
Klayman has brought a number of lawsuits on behalf of conservative causes or against individuals associated with the Democratic party. Many of these cases have been dismissed, including lawsuits against Facebook seeking $1 billion for not responding quickly enough to calls to take down an anti-Israel "Third Intifada" page; and against the Republican National Committee alleging that it conspired to deprive Donald Trump from being awarded the delegates he had won in the 2016 Republican Party primary for Florida. In August 2018, Klayman (on behalf of Freedom Watch) filed a lawsuit against Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple, alleging these companies conspired to censor conservative content. In November 2018, Klayman sued Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections for Broward County, Florida, over the 2018 election results.
Klayman filed an unsuccessful suit to remove special counsel Robert Mueller from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, and stated he intends to convene a citizen grand jury against Mueller.
Klayman has also brought a number of legal actions regarding his personal life. In 1998, Klayman sued his mother for $50,000, seeking reimbursement for medical care provided to his maternal grandmother. In 2013, Klayman defended his actions in an interview with ABC News, and said it was "essentially a case against my stepfather" and that he named his mother "because legally she was next of kin." Klayman also sued the City Pages and Phoenix New Times newspapers for defamation after they reported on a custody dispute between Klayman and his ex-wife. In 2015, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding Klayman failed to prove that the newspapers published the articles with actual malice. In May 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal.
Klayman has also sued the group that he founded, Judicial Watch, in 2012. Klayman argued that a Judicial Watch employee falsely told Orly Taitz that Klayman had been convicted of not paying child support. In reality, Klayman had been indicted of failing to pay child support, but the charges were later dismissed. Taitz published the Judicial Watch employee's comment on her website. Klayman sued Judicial Watch for defamation, and in 2014, a federal jury awarded Klayman $156,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.
Lawsuits representing others
Klayman represented José Basulto of the Cuban exile organization Brothers to the Rescue and won a $1.7 million judgment against Fidel Castro in 2005. The Cuban government shot down and killed four of Basulto's colleagues (and nearly himself) as they flew over international waters.
In 2010, Klayman represented Vincent Forras in a lawsuit against Feisal Abdul Rauf to prevent the building of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." In the motion to dismiss, Rauf's attorney called Klayman an "infamous publicity hound" and wrote that Forras "trades in his well deserved laurels for fifteen minutes of fame as a nationally recognized bigot." Klayman and Forras sought sanctions, but the court denied that request and dismissed the suit. Klayman and Forras then sued Rauf and his attorney for defamation, and that suit was also dismissed.
In 2011, Klayman represented Joseph Farah in a defamation lawsuit against Esquire magazine. A federal district judge dismissed the suit, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
In 2014, Klayman filed a lawsuit on behalf of Joe Arpaio, alleging that the Obama administration's actions regarding federal immigration policy were not authorized by Congress. Later in 2014, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Arpaio lacked standing to challenge the policy changes. The dismissal was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In 2018, Klayman filed a lawsuit on Arpaio's behalf, alleging that the New York Times defamed him.
In 2015, Klayman represented five former government employees in a lawsuit against the NSA, the Department of Justice, and employees of those agencies. The plaintiffs sought over $100 million in damages for alleged retaliation for complaints about the Trailblazer Project. In February 2016, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.
In 2015, Klayman filed a defamation lawsuit on behalf of Dennis L. Montgomery against James Risen, the author of Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. The lawsuit alleged that Risen falsely described Montgomery as "the maestro behind what many current and former U.S. officials ... believe was one of the most elaborate and dangerous hoaxes in American history." In 2016, a federal court dismissed Montgomery's lawsuit. In 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal. In 2015, Klayman also represented Montgomery in his request to intervene in the contempt proceedings against Joe Arpaio in a lawsuit that initially alleged Maricopa County had engaged in impermissible racial profiling, but later revealed that Arpaio had allegedly hired Montgomery to investigate the DOJ. On Montgomery's behalf, Klayman asked the judge presiding over Arpaio's lawsuit to recuse himself; however, the recusal motion was denied in the district court and on appeal. In 2017, Montgomery and Klayman jointly sued James Comey and other federal government officials, alleging a coverup of evidence that, according to Montgomery, shows the existence of widespread illegal surveillance by the federal government. In 2018, a federal district court dismissed their lawsuit.
In 2016, on behalf of five individuals who suffered physical harm after taking Levaquin, Klayman sued the drug's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and Hamburg's husband, alleging they colluded to enrich themselves by not warning the public that the drug posed health risks. In 2017, the federal district court dismissed the suit.
In 2016, Klayman applied in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada for permission to represent Cliven Bundy in the criminal case stemming from the 2014 Bundy standoff. Chief Judge Gloria Navarro denied Klayman's request, citing his failure to fully disclose the extent of his prior professional discipline. In Later in 2016, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision to deny Klayman's request. In 2017, the Ninth Circuit denied another request by Klayman to represent Bundy; in October, the U.S. Supreme Court also denied a similar request. Klayman did not formally represent Bundy at his criminal trial, but rather conferred with Bundy and his family members. The judge dismissed the case, the government appealed the dismissal, and Klayman said he would represent Bundy on appeal. Following the dismissal of the federal criminal charges against Bundy, Klayman, on his behalf, sued in state court for a declaration that the federal government cannot own land in Nevada. Klayman also filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of two of Bundy's codefendants who were found not guilty; Klayman filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of Bundy's son, Ryan.
In 2017, Klayman filed a lawsuit on the behalf of Jackie Beard Robinson, who alleges The Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member Melissa Gorga falsely accused Robinson of stealing merchandise from a store that the women had opened together.
In 2018, Klayman filed a suit on behalf of Kiara Robles, who alleged her First Amendment rights were violate when she was attacked during the 2017 Berkeley protests. Most of the suit was dismissed, and the court revoked Klayman's pro hac vice status, which ended Klayman's ability to represent her in that court.
In 2018, Klayman filed a suit for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud on behalf of Roy Moore against Sacha Baron Cohen in connection with the show Who is America?.
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