ELECTION INTERFERENCE 1998 RAID SET UP A LANDMARK 1ST AMENDMENT RULING THAT SHOULD GUIDE THE STORY OF THE FBI INTERFERENCE IN THE 2020 ELECTION
BY KENNETH C. ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
Long before there were social media of any kind and the internet itself was just in the infancy stage, there was the printed page of a newspaper to provide its readers with the latest news about candidates at election time. I published such a weekly newspaper, infamously known as ST. MARY’S TODAY.
Twenty-four years ago, I received a phone call from the late owner of the local radio stations WMDM & WPTX, Ron Walton. Walton also owned the local TV cable channel, and he told me that the previous evening he had held a televised debate between the two candidates for St. Mary’s County States Attorney and asked if I had seen it. I told him no, as I didn’t get cable; I used one of those roof-mounted revolving antennas and only picked up the DC and Baltimore stations.
Walton told me he could get me the tape of the show, and I should watch it as the two candidates traded barbs about each other’s criminal backgrounds and convictions.
Well, it was known that Democrat and Assistant States Attorney Joe Mattingly Jr. was busted for pot at one time, and Fritz had been involved in some sort of sex charge. I had never bothered to research either, and when in 1994, when Fritz was a candidate for States Attorney in the Democratic Primary race, The Enterprise newspaper printed some reference to the Fritz drama from the late sixties. I asked Fritz about it. Fritz told me he and a girl had sex, and she was 17, and he was 18, and when her father found out about it, he called it rape; it wasn’t; it was consensual. I asked him about the other two guys involved in The Enterprise story. He said he didn’t know anything about that as he had left to get beer and wasn’t around to know if they had sex with her too.
However, I had never taken the next step and checked the courthouse records as I had believed him. I had reason to believe Fritz as he had proven reliable to me in stating facts of investigations when he was the Deputy States Attorney. Fritz provided a sworn affidavit to attorneys for the late Sheriff Wayne Pettit and County Commissioner Eddie Bailey when they filed suit against me for reporting that they were in the Cinderblock Building gambling site in Lexington Park at the same time as were local drug dealers, thus in effect, turning a blind eye to nefarious narcotics transactional affairs. The Good Old Boys liked playing cards with the drug dealers as they were easy marks for the old hands at poker.
After Fritz gave his deposition in the case where the two officials filed a one-and-a-half million-dollar libel suit against me, they were forced to drop the litigation as Fritz was a public official. The law was clear under Sullivan vs. New York Times that I had a right to rely upon a public official’s statements to inform my readers.
Specifically, I had a right to rely upon Fritz for information about investigations as he had sent in both an informant and a State Police investigator into the Cinderblock Building in Lexington Park, Md. While the Maryland State Police investigator couldn’t verify what Fritz’s informant told him, reporting the details I published in 1992 was solid and legal. Pettit and Bailey got no retraction, no money, and went away $35,000 poorer for what they paid their attorneys.
Going to Leonardtown for a visit to the Circuit Court records four days before the election was time-consuming, so I called Clerk of the Court Evelyn Arnold and asked her to fax the records to me. It turned out that the only record on the case was the docket sheet. While email was just starting to flourish in 1998, everyone had a fax machine, and in a few minutes, the docket sheet from Richard D. Fritz’s 1966 criminal charges came across and revealed he had lied to me. The docket sheet showed he had entered a guilty plea to carnal knowledge of a fifteen-year-old minor child and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. At the age of 15, one cannot give consent to sexual relations. Therefore, Fritz lied to me four years earlier.
Consequently, I prepared the election day bombshell report of the rape that Fritz had entered a plea of guilty of being involved in with the other two young men and using the newly developed online edition of ST. MARY’S TODAY began to promote the story that would appear on newsstands on Election Day. A story critical of the actions of St. Mary’s Sheriff Richard Voorhaar for assigning a deputy to work under the supervision of a commander with whom she had filed a sexual harassment complaint was also in the election day edition – the regular weekly edition of the newspaper.
In the early morning hours of Election Day in 1998, Republican candidates Fritz and Voorhaar and their gang went out and cleaned out all available copies of the newspaper to prevent voters from reading the critical news articles about them before casting their ballots. Both candidates later admitted to providing funds to use for buying newspapers from vending machines and stores. The gang videotaped themselves opening machines. The video was later seized by the FBI, and a Federal Judge ordered the tapes turned over to my attorneys as evidence.
As a result, both Fritz and Voorhaar won their respective races over their Democrat opponents. Both men defended their actions citing the many critical articles about them and the activities of the Sheriff’s Department as giving them plenty of reason to censor the news about to be read by voters. The Court of Appeals quoted their complaints in the ruling, which affirmed the right of news outlets to criticize government officials as being at the heart of the First Amendment.
With the talented legal team of Ashley Kissinger and Seth Berlin of Levine, Sullivan, and Koch, now merged with Ballard Spahr, a civil rights action was filed and won. The defendants attempted to appeal the landmark ruling to the Supreme Court, which denied them their appeal and let the decision stand.
The similarity between the reaction to the actions of the FBI to collude with Twitter and Facebook to block the New York Post story in October of 2020, and suppress the story just before the election about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the actions of Fritz, Voorhaar, and their posse of deputies and as many as a dozen political operatives to seize control of the election day issue of ST. MARY’S TODAY by raiding newsstands and cleaning out convenience stores is settled law under Rossignol v Voorhaar US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals 2003 (scroll down for PDF of Decision).
The Court ruled clearly, which is now the law of the land, that law officers cannot, under the color of law, go out in the dark of night and do what is illegal for them to do to block the First Amendment rights of myself as the publisher and of my readers to be able to choose what to read for themselves.
With the release of the facts of the collusion of the FBI and Twitter and the admission of Mark Zuckerberg that the FBI gave a stern warning to Facebook, the rest of the story of the suppression in 2020 has been told.
The facts of the election interference between the 1998 election eve newsstand raid and the 2020 election interference of the FBI with the social media giants are strikingly similar, and the results are the same. Just ask Donald Trump.