The government watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a motion to compel Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to answer questions related to a civil rights lawsuit pending against her by a white male reporter stemming from her racist policy to grant interviews exclusively to “journalists of color.”
In its Nov. 23 motion for court authorization to depose Lightfoot, Judicial Watch said the mayor “breached her obligation under Rule 30(b)(6) to designate a person or persons to testify on her behalf.”
The pleading was made on behalf of plaintiffs Thomas Catenacci and the Daily Caller News Foundation, who had filed a civil rights lawsuit against Lightfoot in May.
In their federal lawsuit, the plaintiffs said Lightfoot’s racist interview policy violated Catenacci’s right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment as well as both plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
In the latest motion, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Judicial Watch said Lightfoot’s designee was woefully unprepared to testify on her behalf.
“Specifically, Kathleen LeFurgy, Mayor Lightfoot’s designee, did no more than speak with Mayor Lightfoot’s attorneys and review materials previously filed in this case,” the filing said. “She did not speak to the mayor. Nor did she speak to anyone else on the mayor’s staff. Nor did she review any records previously unknown to the Court or Plaintiff.
“LeFurgy was grossly ill prepared to testify as Mayor Lightfoot’s designee, and, consequently, Mayor Lightfoot has failed to produce a proper and prepared Rule 30(b)(6) witness.”
Because of the mayor’s refusal to produce a qualified designee to speak on her behalf, Judicial Watch said, the court should order the deposition of Lightfoot herself “on oral examination.”
In a separate motion, Judicial Watch also asked the court to compel the mayor’s office to answer 19 questions that LeFurgy had refused to answer during her deposition.
“Because she has not and cannot demonstrate that her refusal to answer these questions is proper, Mayor Lightfoot’s designee should be required to answer them and reasonable follow-up questions,” the filing said.
In a news release Wednesday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Lightfoot must testify since her policy was the impetus for the discrimination case.
“Testimony in this lawsuit confirms Mayor Lightfoot is responsible for her racist interview policy and is therefore a necessary witness in this civil rights lawsuit,” Fitton said.
Neil Patel, the president of the Daily Caller News Foundation, also urged the court to compel the mayor to submit to a deposition.
“Based on the court proceedings to date it sure seems like Mayor Lightfoot is trying to dodge responsibility for her racist interview policy. We hope the court does not let this happen,” Patel said.
Catenacci, the reporter who was denied an interview, said Lightfoot should be held accountable for her discriminatory conduct.
“It’s high time Mayor Lightfoot answered directly for denying my interview request. The mayor must be held responsible for her blatantly racist interview policy,” Catenacci said.
This controversy erupted in May when Lightfoot announced that she would grant interviews only to “black and brown journalists” to “celebrate” her second anniversary in office.
The mayor cannot deny her actions because she bragged about them in a May 19 memo.
— Mary Ann Ahern (@MaryAnnAhernNBC) May 18, 2021
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against her on May 27 on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation and its reporter.
Catenacci, a white male, had emailed Lightfoot’s office requesting an interview with the mayor. Her office ignored his initial request as well as his two follow-up emails, he said.
The mayor remains unrepentant about her racist policy.
Over the summer, Lightfoot defiantly told New York Times podcaster Kara Swisher that she was “unapologetic” about discriminating against white reporters.
“I would absolutely do it again,” Lightfoot said in July. “I’m unapologetic about it because it spurred a very important conversation, a conversation that needed to happen, that should have happened a long time ago.”
It’s only right that she should be compelled to defend her racist policy in court.
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