Less than two weeks before the Democratic primary, challenger Carlos Vega has signaled he could sue the reelection campaign of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for libel and slander, according to court documents filed earlier this week.
The writ of summons — effectively a placeholder for a civil complaint that may be filed in the future — also names civil rights activist and writer Shaun King and the Real Justice PAC, which King co-founded, as defendants.
The writ does not detail the alleged wrongdoing. Louis Tumolo, who represents Vega, said Thursday the forthcoming suit is tied to a string of “untruths” King recently posted on Instagram and Twitter. He said he sent King, who supports Krasner, a letter last week about the posts, and that King never responded, prompting the writ of summons.
“Enough is enough,” said Tumolo, a former assistant district attorney under Krasner. “Stop putting out information that you know is palpably false.”
One post declared that Vega, who is endorsed by the city’s police union, would never hold officers accountable if he became Philadelphia’s next district attorney, a claim the former homicide prosecutor has denied during a recent candidates forum and Wednesday night’s televised debate.
In 2016, almost a quarter-century after he was first imprisoned, a jury found Wright not guilty of rape and murder. Two years later, Wright reached a $9.8 million settlement with the city.
“Carlos Vega had nothing to do with the conviction of Anthony Wright in the early ’90s. He was involved in the retrial of Anthony Wright,” Tumolo said.
Vega prosecuted Wright’s retrial in 2016, despite DNA testing that proved Wright had not raped the victim, 77-year-old Louise Talley.
In a blog post, King called Vega’s filing “hot garbage.”
“This is what happens when a monster of a man, Carlos Vega, who worked in the single most corrupt division of the single most corrupt DA’s office in the nation for 35 years, without any accountability, without any media scrutiny, without anybody ever saying out loud how horrible he is, finally has somebody punch back for a change,” wrote King, who is also soliciting campaign donations for Krasner.
In a statement, the Krasner campaign called Vega’s actions “unacceptable,” adding that they “offer a window on the type of District Attorney he would be — one who is willing to accuse anyone of anything to get what he wants.”
“We, and the people of Philadelphia, will never stop asking Carlos the tough questions — the ones he won’t answer truthfully — no matter how he tries to bully and intimidate all of us.”
Election lawyer Adam Bonin, who represents the Krasner campaign, called the writ “a nothing.”
“This is politics,” he said. “People are gonna say stuff about you. It comes with the responsibility of the office.”
News of a potential lawsuit comes a day after Vega and Krasner shared a debate stage at NBC10 studios and hours before a candidates forum hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority that will also feature Republican hopeful A. Charles Peruto, Vega’s longtime friend.
After Wednesday’s debate, Krasner and Vega had a heated exchange before exiting the sound stage, with Vega telling Krasner “I’m your worst nightmare.”
Vega also asked Krasner if he had security waiting for him. “Why do I need it?” Krasner replied.
“Do you want to give me a ride home?” Vega asked. “I think you need to walk,” Krasner said.
WHYY’s Ryan Briggs contributed to this story.
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