About that INSIDER story on Trump attorney Charles Harder: The Journalist Bully

Anti-journalism attorney Charles Harder is subject of a story today by J.K. Trotter at Insider highlighting how he’s tried to use the court to harass journalist to turn over names of confidential sources who spoke out on his clients alleged wrong doing. Harder is Trump’s favorite media lawyer and the man that Peter Thiel backed to take down Gawker. The story highlights how Harder sued me on behalf on a microcap fraudster Barry Honig for reporting Honig was the target of an SEC investigation for trading stocks as a group of undisclosed affiliates and manipulating the price of stocks. The story also highlights Harder’s attempt to do the same thing for Honig’s buddy John Hurry who owns a broker dealer and transfer agent at the center of many alleged microcap fraud schemes called Scottsdale and Alpine Securities when The Deal journalist Bill Meagher reported on the government investigation. In both cases Harder charged his clients lot of money and tried to get federal judges to rush discovery before a motion to dismiss was decided so that his client could try and get the names of our confidential sources. This didn’t work for attorney Harder so he would pull the complaint and judge shop by filing it in another state that he thought didn’t have judges who were pro first amendment. The Insider story attempts to show the reader Harder’s strategy didn’t work.

Harder in typical back-street bully fashion gave Insider a few quotes I thought needed clarifying.

Harder told reporter JK Trotter, “”If reporters and their publications would like to avoid lawsuits and depositions, then they should follow the defamation laws and report truthful information in a fair and accurate way.”

After Harder started the lawsuits both clients were charged by regulators for exactly what Bill Meagher and I reported they were being investigated for. NET-NET we did report the truth in an accurate way and a government agency even brought a lawsuits confirming our reporting. Meagher won his case in court and Honig dropped his case against me as we started discovery. Additionally the SEC has won their case against Alpine securities in January of this year and FINRA barred Scottsdale Capital Advisers’ John Hurry. Five of Barry Honig’s co-defendants have made plea deals with the SEC since the government brought the case in September 2018. Honig is still fighting the SEC who accused him of being the ring leader of a massive pump and dump scheme for years.

Bill Meagher nor I had to turn over sources, apologize, or take down the reporting as attorney Harder likes to demand. In fact in my case Harder tried to negotiate that Honig would get two or three days notice before I printed any future stories on him for comment. Given the stories I report on Honig involve publicly traded stocks I said no way because I see it as giving out inside information. And Harder had to fold.

Harder loves to throw out personal insults unrelated to the case when he’s in court and has even said things that are not accurate. In my case court testimony shows Harder told a New York federal judge that Barry Honig doesn’t associate with Michael Brauser because Brausre is considered a bad actor within the investing community. Brauser was charged with Honig in the SEC case which detailed how the duo manipulated stocks for years. Additional Harder told Judge Paul Gardephe that Barry Hoing is a ‘passive investor’. The SEC complaint details exactly how Honig was an active investor to the point of controlling who the CEO’s allowed to invest in the company and the government even has emails from Honig to back this up.

Additionally in the SEC’s amended complaint the government highlights an email Honig sent just months after he started his lawsuit against me. The email basically said Honig wanted to set up a new LLC to hide his investments so people on the internet can’t find out and write about him. I would have loved to have finished discovery in the Honig case and asked Honig if he shared this strategy with his attorney Charles Harder or if Harder came up with it for him.

Harder also made a misleading statement in the Insider story:

“Reporters are required by law (and should be required) to answer questions about their motives,”

I read that line and thought WTF. So I did what journalist are suppose to do and contacted two lawyer who have practiced media law to get their opinion on what Harder was talking about.

Robert Balen, who is outside counsel for the New York Post, said, “Not really sure what Harder is saying here. If a reporter is a defendant is a libel suit, yes the reporter can be questioned at a deposition about the article she wrote. But, as your recent experience shows, where a subpoena is served on a reporter as a non-party to divulge her sources and/or newsgathering material, there are shield laws in virtually every state that generally prohibit questioning of journalists about their sources/newsgathering material except in exceptional circumstances.”

Attorney Wesley Paul of Paul Law, who helped defend one of the companies manipulated in the SEC case against Honig said, “There’s no law that I’m aware of that uniformly requires reporters to disclose anonymous sources. I believe that quote is, on its face, stating that if a reporter is under subpoena, then that reporter is required to face questions, but Harder is masking that comment in a way that makes it appear as if reporters have to disclose sources.”

What I learned about Charles Harder is he will take rich people’s money, promise the world, and doesn’t win. He’s a nuisance but nothing to be afraid of. It was also interesting how many attorneys wanted to represent me pro-bono to get the chance to beat Harder. In my case it was Eric David of North Carolina Brooks Pierce LLP who did just that. And I applaud journalist J.K. Trotter for trying to point that out.


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