Jeff Davis, the Libertarian candidate for governor, has filed a federal lawsuit against Hawaii News Now, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and others, claiming his free speech rights were violated by his treatment outside a governor's debate at the University of Hawaii cancer center earlier this month.
The suit, which also names UH and the state, alleges that Davis went to UH with some supporters to "demonstrate corporate media's chokehold on the public's access to political candidates and for `open media.'"
Davis said he did not intend to disrupt the debate, but was confronted by security guards who had copies of his photograph. Davis claims that one guard threatened him with arrest if he came on the property, but he remained outside the debate and was not arrested.
Davis also described a conversation with Mark Platte, the news director of Hawaii News Now, who shared concerns that Davis might disrupt the debate.
In his lawsuit, Davis argues that the defendants conspired to disrupt and chill his right to free speech in a public forum. He says he has been fearful and anxious since the incident, which he claims has disrupted his sleep, appetite and the ability to do his job. He said he fears there are "people are out there looking for him with his photograph."
Davis, who is being represented by the firm Fujiwara and Rosenbaum, has asked the federal court to find that the defendants violated his rights and to award Davis damages.
Davis has been invited to appear at several forums in the governor's race, including debates aired by Hawaii Public Radio and PBS Hawaii's "Insights." But Davis was not invited to any of the debates sponsored by the commercial television stations and media and advocacy partners.
Davis said he is not complaining about not being invited to the Hawaii News Now-Honolulu Star-Advertiser debate, but about his treatment outside the forum.