Over the past two months, inewsource has published a series of investigative stories about well-known attorney Cory Briggs. Now, a nonprofit Briggs is associated with has sued inewsource and its executive director personally.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, challenges the lease inewsource has with San Diego State University, where it is based. The suit seeks damages from the university and its foundation, the university system, and from inewsource and inewsource founder Lorie Hearn. It can be read in its entirety here.
The lawsuit was filed by San Diegans for Open Government, a nonprofit organization Briggs has used to sue governments over allegations of environmental violations. The attorney representing the group is John McClendon of Laguna Hills, who has joined Briggs in filing lawsuits in the past.
SANDOG’s mission statement, according to its filings with the California Attorney General, is to “Promote social welfare through advocacy for and education regarding responsible and equitable environmental development.” Reached by phone Friday, one of its members, Pedro Quiroz Jr., declined to comment on the lawsuit and referred the reporter to McClendon.
McClendon did not respond to a request for comment by publication.
Hearn, inewsource’s executive director, said, “This feels like retaliation for inewsource’s coverage.”
“Increasingly,” she said, “the subjects of journalistic investigations attack the journalists themselves as a way to stifle honest reporting and damage credibility. It is a disturbing trend.
“Although we have not been served with the lawsuit, if and when we are, we will take appropriate legal action.”
inewsource’s stories have raised concerns about Briggs’ business practices, in particular his home loans legal ethicists have called questionable and possibly fraudulent, as well as his relationship with a former environmental biologist and vice president of his law firm whose work he has sued over. inewsource’s coverage of the relationship has already resulted in a monetary settlement reimbursing taxpayers.
“Cory Briggs sues governments; he’s sued the city of San Diego more than 50 times,” Hearn said. “The city just settled a conflict-of-interest issue in one of those cases for more than $140,000. How Briggs conducts business is of utmost public importance.”
inewsource is a 501c3 formed in 2009 to do in-depth, investigative reporting and to mentor journalism’s next generation. inewsource has a partnership with KPBS and is based in its newsroom on the campus of SDSU. Its award-winning staff focuses on issues that define the times, especially education, health, environment and government accountability.
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