MINOT, N.D. — Monday, my colleague Adam Willis published a story about a political gadfly, formerly of Minot, who somehow managed to get herself mixed up in Trump attorney Sidney Powell's bizarre legal arguments against the outcome of the 2020 election.
I had a small part in the story. Last year this woman, Tore Maras-Lindeman, sent me an email informing me that I had to stop publishing content on the blog I founded 17 years ago, or at least begin publishing content she approved, because she had registered my blog's name with the North Dakota Secretary of State's office.
Nothing came of that inane strategy, and I related the story to Adam for his piece. Maras-Lindeman told him her lame attempt to take over my blog was a "troll."
I wasn't planning on writing anything more about Maras-Lindeman, but this morning I received an email from her attorney, David Thompson of Grand Forks, who decided to threaten me just in case I was considering taking to my keyboard.
Citing some of my past critiques of his legal arguments, Thompson wrote that he was "hereby advising you that puished [sic] comments by you such as 'attorney David Thompson's crazy legal theories' are false and defamatory statements which I will not ignore, and which I may well address in legal action against you and your employer Forum Communications."
Here's the full email:
Mr. Thompson is deeply involved in Democratic-NPL politics. He was a statewide candidate for the party, running for Attorney General in 2018 and receiving just 32% of the vote. He's also frequently represented the party and its candidates in various legal proceedings. Notably, he was involved in the state Supreme Court argument over erstwhile insurance commissioner candidate Travisia Martin's eligibility (she was removed from the ballot by the court).
Thompson's involvement with Maras-Lindeman stems from a 2017 event in Minot she was raising money for. The attorney general's office sued her over the use of the funds — AG Wayne Stenehjem described it as a "garden variety scam" to Adam — and Thompson served as her attorney.
I'm not sure why Thompson chose to send me an email, specifically, but this isn't the first time he's tried to intimidate me into silence.
Earlier this year, I wrote a column, based on many publicly available records, about a Democratic legislative candidate in Grand Forks named Jackie Hoffarth who lost her job at the University of North Dakota over a romantic relationship with a student. Hoffarth was "terminated for adequate cause" by her boss. She challenged the termination and then subsequently reached an agreement with the university. She was allowed to resign in exchange for roughly seven months of salary and health insurance coverage.
Thompson and Hoffarth, who ultimately received the lowest number of votes of the four candidates in her state House race, held a public news conference where the former made legal threats of a lawsuit over my column.
My column is still online, and unedited and not retracted in any way, which is our answer to Mr. Thompson's threats.
But the fact that Thompson keeps making these threats, and is now making them preemptively before a word is even written, is deeply troubling.
Again, this is a prominent member of the Democratic-NPL. Their legal counsel, at times.
Is this sort of Trumpian bluster how Democrats treat the First amendment?
There probably aren't many Democrats who are eager to rise and defend the good name of Rob Port. I am, after all, a conservative columnist and frequent critic. But maybe we should all agree, whatever our political affiliations, that criticism, and even sharp-elbowed discourse, should be allowed to happen without threats and intimidation.
That, after all, is the price of admission to a free society. Sometimes, you're going to have to tolerate some speech you don't like.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.