Reps. Matt Gaetz from Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia have initiated a lawsuit against liberal advocacy groups and two cities in California, accusing them of infringing upon their First Amendment rights by orchestrating the cancellation of their rallies.
The planned America First rallies, scheduled to take place in Anaheim and Riverside in 2021, were called off after facing pressure from activists and local government officials.
In their lawsuit, filed on Thursday, Gaetz and Taylor Greene assert that the cities coerced the private venues into canceling the events, even threatening to revoke a venue’s permit.
Alongside their funding committees, the lawmakers are seeking an injunction to prevent cities from pressuring private venues to refrain from entering into contracts for future political rallies organized by the plaintiffs.
Additionally, they are requesting damages for emotional distress. The lawsuit names ten advocacy groups allegedly involved in influencing the cities to cancel the rallies.
Initially, the scheduled rally in California was set to be held at the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, but the owner canceled upon learning that Gaetz and Taylor Greene would be speaking.
The event was then moved to the Riverside Convention Center, which cited an issue with the certificate of insurance as the reason for cancellation, as stated in the lawsuit. Another venue, the Grand Theater, was selected but also canceled under pressure from local leaders.
The lawsuit claims that a city code enforcement officer informed the venue that its conditional use permit would be in jeopardy if the event was not canceled.
Mike Lyster, the chief communications officer for Anaheim, stated that the city has not officially received the complaint yet but is aware of it and intends to review it. Riverside has not responded to a request for comment. Ultimately, the rally took place outside Riverside City Hall.