No Labels, the centrist group that could field a third-party presidential bid, has asked the Justice Department to investigate what it calls illegal intimidation by groups that oppose it.
The group filed a lawsuit on January 11, accusing a number of political figures and other critics of engaging in voter suppression and violating federal law, including the Democratically Influenced Organizations Act. racketeering and corruption, or RICO, which is often used to fight organized crime.
New Labels executives who described the complaint at a news conference Thursday largely emphasized previously reported details efforts to oppose the group, as well as inflammatory statements some of its critics had made on political podcasts.
The group compared its opponents’ efforts to those of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s and 1960s and fictional mob boss Tony Soprano. A clip editing The group showed Rick Wilson, founder of the anti-Trump Republican group Lincoln Project, who said last spring that the group should “be reduced to ashes,” using an expletive – although the clip had been cut before Mr Wilson added the word “politically”. (After being asked about the shortened clip, the group uploaded a version of the video with the full statement.)
Other critics featured in the montage were Jonathan V. Last of The Bulwark, a conservative news outlet, and Matt Bennett of Third Way, a centrist Democratic group.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, national co-chair of No Labels, said the group’s opponents were “using intimidation to keep people from voting” and attacking “the rights of the American people and our democracy.”
In a statement released Thursday, the Lincoln Project accused No Labels of attempting to “weaponize the DOJ” to “attack its opponents for protected political speech.” The Bulwark and Third Way did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The complaint filed by No Labels was unusual for a group involved in campaign politics. Attacks and pressure campaigns against potential candidates, donors, and party supporters are common in politics, particularly in high-profile presidential races, and are considered largely permissible by courts under copyright protections. expression of the First Amendment.
The group’s claims that its opponents are significantly undermining voting rights are also complicated by the fact that a number of third-party presidential candidates have already entered the race, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the prominent environmental lawyer turned anti-vaccine activist. .
On the other hand, No Labels has not yet committed to participating in the presidential race, and it remains unclear who would run on the group’s electoral lists if it did. Sen. Joe Manchin III, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia who visited New Hampshire, is considered a leading potential candidate.
The group also fought for prevent candidates from using your ballot to run for positions other than president and vice president, in part to avoid disclosing his donors.
Ryan Clancy, the group’s chief strategist, said Thursday that the group was “not trying to prevent either party from nominating whoever they want.” But Mr. Clancy and other leaders of the group said they would decide whether to enter the race until it became clear that the two major parties would nominate President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.