Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mayor Sam a.k.a. Mike Higby

This is Mike “MayorSam” Higby. As you can see, he looks like the type of guy who lives in his mother’s basement and blogs away furiously. He is very courageous, witty, and powerful – when sitting behind a computer screen, that is.

We’re guessing that Mike Higby was always the “big kid” who bullied others on the schoolyard. Life, however, has a way of catching up on people like that. Now the only way that Higby can bully people is from behind his computer screen.

Like most cowards, Mike Higby attempted for years to conduct his bullying anonymously. He only revealed his identity after he was “outed” by two local political operatives who tipped off two other political operatives, who tipped off the Daily News and L.A. Times to his real identity. What a courageous man!

Higby engages in disgusting racial and ethnic stereotyping. One need only peruse his site quickly to read the things he has said about Obama and African-Americans, Villaraigosa and Latinos, and countless others. His clueless, xenophobic hatred, of anyone who is ethnically different than he, is palpable.

No real surprise here: Mike Higby is also a Republican. In fact, Higby is quite often a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Except for the fact that Half-Truth Higby does not disclose that on his blog. He purports to be objectively reporting the truth.

In sum, our problem with Higby is that he engages in cyber-bullying that is, alternatively, libelous, hateful, racist, divisive, or is just for the purposes of furthering his right-wing agenda. Even though making fun of Pigby, er, Higby, is just too easy, we’re going to refrain.

Instead, we thought we would hit this asshole where it hurts – his pocketbook. We are putting together a class-action or multi-plaintiff lawsuit that will quietly and efficiently expose this cyber-bully for what he is. We fully expect our probe to lead to evidence of illegal activity, and will implicate others in MayorSam’s disgusting and distasteful shenanigans.

Below are the theories on which we will proceed:

(1) Libel. Like many amateurs, Mike Higby apparently thinks he is above the law of libel, because his blog discusses public figures, and because the most salacious pieces on his blog often appear as “comments.” Fortunately for us, this is a gross misunderstanding of the law.

There is no exception for libel regarding public officials if a blogger proceeds with reckless disregard for the truth, and/or with a malicious purpose. Additionally, court decisions have made it abundantly clear that bloggers are subject to liability for libel when they moderate comments on their blogs, because in such cases, they become the arbiters and re-publishers of the public content. Because the Internet is worldwide, we can even sue Higby in another country!

Mike Higby posts (and re-publishes) untrue statements that could be determined to be untrue by simple research. He moderates comments on MayorSam, thus taking responsibility by law for each comment, by picking and choosing what appears on his site. Mike Higby also routinely adds his own defamatory two cents to debates. Mike Higby commits libel.

We have amassed several dozen examples where Higby libeled someone, where he posted something with reckless disregard to the truth and with a malicious purpose. In these instances, the facts could have been easily and quickly discerned often by a simple Google search. Additionally, we have amassed several examples when Higby accepted one of our test comments and rejected others. We believe he does this in furtherance of his agenda, a clear malicious purpose.

To read more about the strategy we will deploy, please refer to the Liskula Cohen case and the several cases upholding blogger liability for defamation (because of a malicious purpose) after/despite the Barrett v. Rosenthal decision.

We are looking for other examples where Higby libeled someone. If you have clear evidence of the same, please e-mail us at the address above. Please also provide a short statement of your financial damages. Note that if the libel is of a certain nature (i.e. sexual, or certain others), it is libel per se, and monetary damages are presumed under the law.

(2) Phishing. We have uncovered evidence that we believe shows that Mike Higby engages in improper user-tracking techniques that the law would consider “phishing.” Phishing is the use of improper means online to obtain identifying or other personal information about a user. Specifically, we believe that Mike Higby tracks the IP addresses of everyone who posts on MayorSam, and then attempts to identify the poster by engaging in phishing, with the alleged help of various operatives.

If you believe that you have been phished by Mayor Sam, or have received any odd e-mails connected to your posting on Higby’s site, please contact us at the e-mail address above. We will forward the information to the appropriate authorities and proceed civilly where applicable.

(3) Copyright Infringement. This is an easy one. Higby routinely posts images to which he has no right, in clear violation of U.S. copyright laws. Again, we suspect an amateur’s knowledge of the law. Just because an image can be downloaded off the Internet does not mean it is public domain. Just because a blogger purports to discuss “news” does not provide a Fair Use safe harbor for the use of infringing content.

The beauty of a Copyright claim is that is allows a plaintiff to seek a federal Clerk’s Subpoena, a unique and very cost-effective way to demand records from a defendant, without appearing before a judge or filing a suit.

If you believe that Higby has violated your copyright of any image or logo, please contact us immediately at the e-mail address provided above.

We intend to seek a subpoena of other records through this Copyright claim, which will almost certainly lead to actionable evidence of other varieties.

(4) Payola. Rumors abound that certain campaigns and/or officials have paid Higby to skew the “news” coverage one way or another. While this conduct is not necessarily a crime, its financial motivation, if true, provides a wonderful basis on which to proceed on libel claims. Also, if true, we will expose the wrongdoers to the world, so that Higby’s perspective and biases are there for the world to see.

(5) UPDATE. We are also looking for evidence that Higby is so biased toward certain campaigns or candidates, that he would need to report his blogging as an in-kind contribution to that candidate. For example, he recently gave one candidate daily, free, multimedia exposure. If there was any coordination or any improper intent, this exposure would be an unlawful non-reported political contribution.

Do not fear Higby learning of our plans and deleting e-mails or other correspondence. Items deleted remain on e-mail servers for quite some time, and we intend to subpoena them too, if necessary. Furthermore, with today’s excellent forensic searching capability, we can and will recover the evidence we need.

In fact, if we can prove that Higby was aware of the possibility of a lawsuit, any deletions (of any e-mails or other documents whatsoever) by Higby will be a separate tort, Spoliation, providing an evidentiary inference in our favor!

Please contact us at if you have any helpful information.