Feb 19, 2012
Trump Threatens $25 Million Lawsuit Over Campaign Urging Macy’s To Dump Donald Trump
More Than 680,000 Sign Petition Urging the Retailer to Dump Trump
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Donald Trump has threatened online organizer Angelo Carusone, who started a petition on SignOn.org, the online petition platform of MoveOn.org, urging Macy’s to Dump Trump, with a $25 million lawsuit if he continues to push for accountability by Macy’s for the vitriolic TV personality’s brand of bigoted bullying and pattern of racist, sexist and mean-spirited comments.
Donald Trump’s attorney sent Angelo Carusone a cease-and-desist letter on December 27, 2012, after the Hollywood Reporter reported that mobile billboards circled Macy’s Herald Square store and corporate headquarters in Cincinnati urging the company to restore the “Magic of Macy’s.”
In the letter, Trump’s attorney, Alan Garten, threatened Carusone with “a major, multi-million dollar lawsuit” unless he immediately stops in his effort to “tortiously interfere with Mr. Trump’s business and contractual relationships.” In the letter, Mr. Garten accused Carusone of “mob-like bullying and coercion” and “intentionally disseminating misinformation.”
In a January 23, 2013, response letter, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, a long-standing advocate for free speech and Carusone’s attorney, challenged Garten’s claims.
“Your letter repeatedly asserts, without any factual basis, that Carusone has exaggerated the extent to which members of the public have endorsed his boycott effort; you also contend, again without being specific, that Carusone casts Trump in a false light,” Levy wrote. “During your call, you said that Trump is itching to proceed with litigation, that Macy’s wants him to file a lawsuit, and that you could identify several respects in which Carusone’s statements are false. You said that you would send that listing to me, but I have not yet received it.”
In the letter, Levy explained, “There is a well-established First Amendment right to advocate a boycott over policy-related objections … I have no reason to believe that there is a tort of exaggerating the public support for a political campaign. If there were such a tort, I imagine that most candidates for public office, no doubt including your client, would be liable at one point or another.”
“Donald Trump’s attempt to silence me will not work. I’ve dealt with enough bullies and know better than to succumb to intimidation,” said Angelo Carusone. “By threatening me, Trump is only reinforcing the point that we’ve been trying to get Macy’s to recognize: that Trump’s brand is consequence-free bullying and chicanery; it shouldn’t be rewarded. I was also surprised to hear Trump’s counsel claim that Macy’s is supportive of Trump’s legal action. Trump doesn’t have credibility, so I don’t put too much stock in the claim, but I really hope Macy’s isn’t encouraging these kinds of threats against its own customers.”
“From the boycott of Missouri for blocking the Equal Rights Amendment to refusing to eat at Chick-fil-A for opposing gay rights, the ability to stimulate a mass “vote with your wallet” campaign has been a key weapon for activists that has long been recognized under the First Amendment,” added Levy. “Free speech trumps business expectations; even Donald Trump should know better than to bring the suit that he threatens.”
Stefanie Faucher, a spokesperson for MoveOn.org, which sponsors the petition platform SignOn.org where Carusone started his petition said, “MoveOn.org stands behind Angelo Carusone and the other individuals using SignOn.org to exercise their First Amendment rights. We deplore any and all attempts to bully and intimidate Americans who are simply exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech and who are courageous enough to speak truth to power.”
Since Angelo’s petition was launched on SignOn.org last November, more than 680,000 people have signed, telling Macy’s that Trump’s brand of bigoted bullying is not in line with the magic of Macy’s – or the company’s corporate responsibility policy. Petition signers have taken to Facebook and Twitter by the tens of thousands to let Macy’s know their dissatisfaction with Macy’s decision. AdWeek reported in late November that Macy’s had suffered significant brand damage as a result of its association with Donald Trump.
Sign the petition: http://signon.org/sign/urge-macys-to-dump-donald.
To learn more about Public Citizen’s work on free speech, visit https://www.citizen.org/our-work/litigation/articles/first-amendment.