Dennis Fusaro, a libertarian activist, and Steve Waters were found not guilty by a jury of their own peers for illegal free speech. The men had sent a robocall back in 2014 to 5,000 people in Anne Arundel County, Maryland on the weekend before an important election. The robocall congratulated Democratic County Council candidate Patrick Armstrong “for his bravery in coming out of the closet” after he supported a transgender bathroom mandate.
“Transgenders can now openly and freely go into any bathroom of their choice based on their confused gender identity,” the obviously satirical script for the robocall read. “Tell Patrick to continue to stand loud and proud in support for transgenders’ equal rights. While our opponent argued that children could be at risk by sexual predators with this new law, we celebrate the rights of transgenders and what this does for equality for transgenders in Maryland.”
Armstrong’s Republican opponent, Michael Anthony Peroutka, employed Fusaro but denied any knowledge of the robocall. He won the election, but Fusaro’s tactics were deemed illegal by the state and he was brought up on charges.
“The call in question failed to identify Fusaro and Waters as the persons responsible for the call, and failed to state whether it was authorized by any candidate,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Instead, the call falsely stated that it was ‘Paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Transgenders.'” Additionally, the men used burner phones for the robocall which was said to be an underhanded attempt to conceal their identity.
Fusaro and Waters were charged with violating and conspiring to violate the authority line requirements of Maryland election laws. Each charge carried up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. Despite the facts of the case being rather clear, the jury made the decision to acquit both men. It is believed that the jury nullified the Draconian restrictions against political free speech on the books in the state of Maryland.
“The Office of the Maryland Special Prosecutor decides which procedural mistakes are hammered and which are not. That gives them substative message control by using their procedural power,” Fusaro said in a statement released to Target Liberty. “Taxpayers in Maryland who are concerned with their first amendment rights should rise up and have that office shut down by petitioning their legislature for redress of grievances. ”
Fusaro, always the libertarian rabble-rouser, is best known for releasing embarrassing audio of former Ron Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton talking about “holding his nose” to support Sen. Mitch McConnell after joining his campaign. Because of the concept of jury nullification, Fusaro will be unabated in his activist work stirring up trouble for politicians.