A conservative businessman, accused of scamming investors in a Tea Party television venture, is countersuing his former business partners, claiming that they conspired against him and that he “has suffered shame and humiliation” as a result of their suit.
In his countersuit, California businessman Anthony Loiacono asks for $1 million in damages each from Bill Hemrick and five other Tennessee investors, over a video website, Tea Party HD, aimed at tea partiers.
Hemrick and the others sued Loiacono in November, claiming that he never put in his share of the start-up money and used the rest of the funds as his “personal bank account.” The complaint says he used the money to pay himself, his employees, and even his family members “exorbitant rates” for just a few TPHD projects.
“The alleged purpose of Tea Party HD was to be the ‘world’s first HD provider of news about the Tea Party,’” the initial lawsuit stated. “In reality it was an investment scheme to defraud politically conservative-minded citizens who support the Tea Party mission.” The suit requested $19 million in punitive damages and a return of the initial investments.
Loiacono claims that he and Hemrick came up with the idea in 2010, and each agreed to invest $60,000 and split ownership of the company. Hemrick was in charge of raising money, and Loiacono was in charge of producing the video. “Extensive amounts of time and effort were expended by” Loiacono and employees of Heads & Tails, Inc., in “the production, editing, and presenting of videos and other media materials for Tea Party HD, LLC, on its internet website.” Loiacono adds that the videos were “of high professional quality and were well accepted by the public, and produced income from advertisers.”
But, Loiacono claims, Hemrick “was unable or unwilling to fulfill his obligation of raising capital for the venture” and that “as capital for the venture dwindled, the investors became polarized against him.” He also claims that the investors pressured him to buy them out, and conspired to violate the initial agreement among the group.
Loiacono “has suffered shame and humiliation among his colleagues and clientele, which will result in lost income,” the complaint says.
Initially, in response the lawsuit, Loiacono told the Tennessean that he would challenge Hemrick to settle it through a televised “lie detector challenge” — and if he wins Hemrick would have to drop the suit and cover Loiacono’s legal fees.
Tea Party HD is probably most famous for operating that camera that Michele Bachmann stared into — instead of the camera operated by CNN that was carrying the live broadcast — during her Tea Party Express rebuttal (to the rebuttal) of President Obama’s State Of The Union address.
Between them, Hemrick and Loiacono have spent a few days in court before. Hemrick previously sued Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation in March, 2010 for reneging on a deal over that year’s Tea Party Convention. And Loiacono has been sued over a proposed ‘virtual reality online” project that also allegedly never materialized.