HARTFORD, CT — A Republican campaign manager who was fired in February after one of her tweets was criticized as “anti-Semitic” is suing the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut and the ADL of Connecticut for defamation.
The civil lawsuit filed in New Britain Superior Court this week says that the campaign manager, Nicole Palmieri, has suffered emotional distress arising from the decision of the two organizations to label her “as an anti-Semite on social media.”
Palmieri has said in statements that she is “sickened at the implication that this tweet was motivated by any racial or religious bias. And I am saddened that people would rush to such judgement (sic) and believe that I would engage in such hurtful and awful speech.”
Palmieri has declined to remove the tweet and instead hired attorney Norman Pattis to represent her in the lawsuit.
Michael Bloom, executive director of JFAC, declined comment on the pending litigation. The ADL of Connecticut did not return calls or emails seeking comment Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, the ADL was the first to criticize the Feb. 20 tweet. When Palmieri tried to challenge the effort to “smear [her] name,” the ADL responded by accusing her of using a “stereotype around Jews and money.”
Palmieri tweeted a photo of Sen. Derek Slap shaking hands with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and added a caption that said: “Even Dick isn’t safe from Slap’s money grabbing.”
JFAC then posted on its Facebook page: “This type of stereotyping Jews as money grabbing is irresponsible and unacceptable. The use of anti-Semitic language and imagery as contained in this tweet is becoming normalized in our society and we must stand up and demand it stop.”
They called on candidate Bill Wadsworth — for whom Palmieri was working during the special election for the 5th Senate District — to apologize.
Wadsworth not only apologized, but he also fired Palmieri.
The lawsuit says that “the resulting firestorm of social media activity led Mr. Wadsworth to fire the plaintiff from her job as his campaign manager. It also led to widespread calls for her to resign from her position on the Plainville Board of Education.”
The complaint goes onto state: “Not one of the critics, including the defendants, the social media writers, the politicians ever reached out to discuss the matter with the plaintiff before condemning her publicly.”
And, according to the complaint, “The tweet was no more than ironic commentary that even politicians prey upon one another for contributions. Ms. Palmieri’s tweet was identity-neutral commentary on the behavior of a political opponent.”
“The aforesaid mention tweet is neither anti-Semitic nor offensive. Indeed, whether Mr. Slap is, in fact, Jewish, is a matter unknown to the plaintiff,” Pattis wrote in the complaint.
Palmieri is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $15,000.
Anti-semitism was cited a number of times around the country during the 2018 election cycle that ended in November, including a mailing that targeted Matt Lesser, a jewish candidate in the 9th State Senate District.