Idaho: Businessman sues Mother Jones magazine for suggesting he was a violent homophobe

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A marketing executive in the US state of Idaho is suing Mother Jones magazine because he contends he was defamed by an article that depicted him as a supporter of anti-gay violence.

Frank VanderSloot, the chief executive of direct marketing company Melaleuca, filed the lawsuit in Idaho Falls’ 7th District court on Tuesday.

He says a February 2012 article about him and two tweets promoting it caused national criticism of his reputation.

The magazine’s co-editor-in-chief Monika Bauerlein says Mother Jones stands by its reporting and she hasn’t yet received official notification of the lawsuit.

Mr VanderSloot is asking for nearly $75,000 (£47,300) in damages.

The lawsuit focuses on the article titled, “Pyramid-Like Company Ponies Up $1 million for Mitt Romney.”

Mr VanderSloot points to a tweet promoting the article that described him as the Republican 2012 presidential nominee’s “gay-bashing buddy.”

“I’ve never taken shots like this before,” Mr VanderSloot told the Idaho Falls Post Register. “I think it’s particularly egregious to accuse somebody of a hate crime.

“In my opinion, that’s what gay-bashing is. The accusation is that I have bashed gay people.”

The article also claimed Mr VanderSloot “outed” gay Post Register reporter Peter Zuckerman in a full-page advert in the newspaper in 2005. The ad was critical of Mr Zuckerman’s reporting in the newspaper’s “Scout’s Honor” series, which dealt with paedophilia in the Boy Scouts.

Mr VanderSloot’s suit claims Mr Zuckerman’s sexual orientation was known publicly before the series and subsequent ad hit newsstands.

Court documents point to Monika Bauerlein’s tweet published on 6 February 2012 that read: “Romney’s gay-bashing buddy runs a company that targets stay-at-home moms for misleading marketing scheme. Charming!”

Mr VanderSloot earlier gained attention for buying space on 25 billboards in 1999 to protest a show on Idaho Public Television. The billboards claimed a documentary, which discussed how schools broached the subject of homosexuality, promoted “the homosexual lifestyle of your children.”

In 2008, Mr VanderSloot’s wife, Belinda, contributed $100,000 (£63,000) to an independent group supporting a successful  effort to ban equal marriage in California.