Federal Court Affirms Ohio Elections Commission Rulings that David Krikorian Maliously Lied About Jean Schmidt, Turkish Americans, and the Government of Turkey

November 3, 2010, Washington, DC - During the 2007-08 election cycle, Armenian American David Krikorian attempted to lie his way to victory over incumbent Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH). In the waning hours of the campaign with no time for a response, Krikorian alleged that Schmidt had accepted illegal contributions from supposed Turkish government-sponsored political action committees. He further maintained that the Congresswoman accepted campaign funds in exchange for a promise to refuse co-sponsorship of H. Res. 106, a resolution that would validate the Armenian allegation of genocide. Rep. Schmidt filed suit against Krikorian at the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) for making nine false statements. In October 2009, the commission determined that Krikorian knowingly and maliciously lied with regard to at least three of the statements Schmidt challenged. H. Res 106 never came to a vote on the House floor.

Krikorian first appealed the OEC ruling in state court. He concurrently sued in federal court, seeking to enjoin the OEC from enforcing Ohio laws against intentional false statements in political campaigns on the preposterous ground that the First Amendment guarantees a right to lie about political candidates. Krikorian’s state court appeal was dismissed and not pursued further. On October 19, the federal court dismissed his remaining appeal. Relying in large part on Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), Judge Susan J. Dlott ruled: that abstention was required because Krikorian could have advanced all of his constitutional claims in the state court appeal; that the OEC was constitutionally empowered to sanction intentionally false statements in federal election campaigns; and, that the core assertion in every statement Krikorian argued was protected speech had been found false and malicious by clear and convincing evidence by the OEC, and could not be reconsidered by a federal court.

Seeking to defend her good name against Armenian American intimidation, Rep. Schmidt has filed a multi-count civil defamation lawsuit in state court in Ohio. That case is pending. In these matters, Rep. Schmidt has been represented by the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (Bruce Fein and David Saltzman), aided by local Counsel Chester, Wilcox & Saxbe (Don Brey). Krikorian’ lead counsel have been Christopher Finney and Mark Geragos.


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