Ron Paul’s campaign suffered a setback this week in its effort to identify who uploaded videos that appear to show the presidential candidate bashing a former rival’s ties to China.
A federal judge yesterday refused the campaign’s request for an order that would have forced YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) and Twitter to disclose details about “NHLiberty4Paul.” That name is associated with a Twitter and YouTube handle, likely from New Hampshire, that issued messages suggesting former Republican candidate Jon Huntsman is a Chinese agent.
The Paul campaign, which has disavowed the allegations, responded with a lawsuit earlier this month. Here is an excerpt:
The Video also questions Mr. Huntsman’s religious faith, refers to Mr. Huntsman as “China Jon” and asks whether his daughters are “even adopted.” The Video ends with a fictitious depiction of Mr. Huntsman in a Mao Zedong uniform and the text “American Values and Liberty – Vote Ron Paul,” thereby falsely implying that Plaintiff created, endorsed or is affiliated in some way with the Video and its content.
The people associated with NHLiberty4Paul also issued a series of tweets that insult Huntsman and claim Paul is the only real conservative in the GOP race.
In a recent filing, the Paul campaign asked US Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James to grant an order that would have forced Twitter, YouTube and other third parties to provide information about NHLiberty4Paul.
In a two-page order (shown below), James stated that the Paul campaign had not met the “good cause” criteria necessary to obtain the order.
This means that the campaign can’t for now obtain the identities of the defendants who are listed in the lawsuit as “John Doe.”
Jerrold Abeles, an attorney for the Paul campaign, said in a phone interview that the order is not the end of the road for the Paul campaign. Abeles said the campaign still has the option to file an amended request seeking to unmask the John Does.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of false advertising, trademark infringement and libel. The suit is unusual because free speech principles of American law make it nearly impossible for a national political figure like Paul to win a defamation case.
Ron Paul is a libertarian whose followers rabidly support his philosophy of small government and a non-interventionist foreign policy.