After no one took him up on his televised “lie detector challenge,” the man accused of scamming his co-investors in the failed television venture Tea Party HD is trying to make his case by calling a number of high-profile conservative witnesses like Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter to his defense.
Anthony Loiacono, who was sued for $19 million by a group of conservative businessmen in November, introduced a list of 50 witnesses he plans on calling in the case, Brandon Gee of The Tennessean reports. The list includes Bachmann, Coulter, conservative commentator Phil Valentine, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips and Tennessee legislators Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson, both Republicans.
TPHD was founded in 2010 by Loiacono and Bill Hemrick, purporting to be the “world’s first HD provider of news about the Tea Party.” But Hemrick and the five other businessmen who invested in the company claim that Loiacono never put in his share of the funding, used the existing money as his “personal bank account,” and didn’t do the work laid out by the initial deal. “In reality it was an investment scheme to defraud politically conservative-minded citizens who support the Tea Party mission,” the suit said.
Loiacono countersued last month, asking for $1 million in damages each from Hemrick and the other five investors. In his initial response the lawsuit, Loiacono said he would be willing to settle the suit through a televised “lie detector challenge” between he and Hemrick. If he were to win, Hemrick would have to drop the suit and cover Loiacono’s legal fees.
Before being named as a witness, Bachmann already had a tangential connection to the suit. Hemrick is a prominent conservative fundraiser who acted as the financial director for her presidential campaign in Tennessee.
And, in one of its ventures that did come to fruition, Tea Party HD operated that camera that Bachmann was famously staring 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 in 2011.
Phillips, of Tea Party Nation, who was also named as a witness in the suit, was also sued by Hemrick in March, 2010 over that year’s Tea Party Convention. Hemrick claimed he loaned Phillips and Tea Party Nation $50,000 to go toward the $100,000 speaking fee for keynote Sarah Palin, on the condition that Hemrick could be involved in the PAC Phillips was planning to put together. Hemrick claimed that Phillips backed out, banned him from attending Palin’s speech, and then trash-talked him to other Tea Party Nation supporters. Hemrick eventually dropped the charges.
Phillips said that he was not aware he was named as a witness until TPM contacted him. “I’m stunned,” he said. “I had nothing to do with that venture so I am not sure what I would have to offer. I guess I’ll find out.”
Loiacono has previously been sued over a proposed ‘virtual reality online” project that also allegedly never materialized.
Bachmann did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment, but we’ll update if we hear from her team.