Del. Glenn Davis wants to know who sent text messages to Republican convention delegates that called him a “gay Democrat,” and he wants to hold the sender accountable for the false claims, according to a lawsuit he filed.
Davis filed a defamation lawsuit Tuesday in Norfolk Circuit Court against “Jane Doe” in hopes of finding the culprit or culprits.
Davis, R-Virginia Beach, is among six candidates vying for the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, which will be decided in Saturday’s convention voting open to GOP delegates at locations around state.
The lawsuit says Davis believes the text messages were sent only to the personal cellphones of convention delegates, and access to those numbers would have been limited to one of the GOP statewide campaigns for lieutenant governor, attorney general or governor.
The text messages stemmed from a mail piece whose sender was properly disclosed under state election law.
Another candidate, former Republican lawmaker Tim Hugo from Northern Virginia, sent literature attacking Davis. That literature included a photo of Davis wearing a striped, colorful shirt at a PrideFest event in Hampton Roads to show his support for gay rights. The mail piece provided no commentary on gay rights other than the photo.
But then someone anonymously used that photo and texted it to GOP convention delegates with the message, “Did you know Glenn Davis is a Gay Democrat?” The text asks delegates not to vote for him, and asks voters to help him “come out of the closet.”
Hugo has denied having anything to do with the text messages.
Davis’ lawsuit says the person or persons who sent the texts knew that the statements that he is a Democrat and that he is gay are false. A subpoena to the telecommunications provider to which the phone number that sent the text is registered is likely to find the sender’s identity, the lawsuit says.
“It is a shame that these measures must be taken to protect one’s reputation in an intra-party process such as this,” Davis said in a statement Tuesday.
“These unethical, illegal, and scandalous tactics are detrimental to our party, civil discourse, and the efforts underway to win back Virginia for Republicans in November. I want it to be very clear that we will soon discover which campaign and bad actors were behind this text and they will be sued to the full extent allowed by Virginia law. For far too long, this type of behavior has gone unchecked and unchallenged within Virginia’s Republican Party and today that ends with me.”
Davis’ lawsuit says that while he unapologetically supports gay rights, he has been married to his wife, Chelle Davis, during his public service career and has always been elected as a Republican. No evidence exists that he is gay, the lawsuit says.
Once he identifies the responsible person or persons, Davis asks for a court judgment of $100,000 in nominal and compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.