RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond judge rejected an effort from the Virginia attorney general’s office to dismiss a $1 million defamation lawsuit filed by a former top deputy who says she was forced out of her job over calling the Jan. 6 rioters “patriots” on Facebook.
Monique Miles filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court last August against Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) and four of his staff members claiming her reputation was damaged by “false statements” about her departure.
Miles alleges she was fired as deputy attorney general of the Government Operations and Transactions division, where she helped oversee election integrity matters, over Facebook posts she made as a private citizen falsely claiming Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election and calling rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, “patriots.”
But in her lawsuit, Miles claims the attorney general’s office publicly framed the firing as a resignation by telling the media that they “parted ways” as she showed a “lack of transparency” during the initial interview process. This has led Miles to lose clients, the lawsuit alleges.
The AG’s office filed a motion to have the case dismissed and the two sides went to court on March 30. Richmond Circuit Judge Bradley Cavedo overruled the bid to toss out the lawsuit, a decision that lets the case move forward.
Miles is suing Miyares, Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles Slemp III, Miyares’ Chief of Staff Darrell Jordan, the AG office’s Director of External Affairs Klarke Kilgore and Director of Communications Victoria LaCivita, but she withdrew her claims against them in their individual capacities during the March 30 hearing.
In her lawsuit, Miles alleges she immediately told members of the AG’s office about a story The Washington Post was prepping to run about her Facebook posts, including screenshots.
“News Flash: Patriots have stormed the Capitol,” Miles wrote in one post. “No surprise. The deep state has awoken the sleeping giant. Patriots are not taking this lying down. We are awake, ready and will fight for our rights by any means necessary.”
The lawsuit details meetings, calls, messages and emails that Miles said she shared with staff, including claims that she edited some of the Facebook posts after getting additional “information from the news, post-election lawsuits, legislative hearings, and election audits.”
Miles also claims in her lawsuit that she sent messages informing Jordan she didn’t condone the Jan. 6 riot.
After being told she was being given “an opportunity to resign,” Miles alleges she told the attorney general’s office she didn’t do anything wrong. Miles turned in her work ID and equipment, a move that led the AG’s office to believe she had resigned, according to the lawsuit.
LaCivita shared a statement with the media that Miles and the AG’s office had “parted ways” because Miles lacked “transparency during her initial interviews for the position,” the lawsuit claims.
Miles claims she texted Miyares, Slemp, Jordan and Kilgore that the statement “was defamatory and needed to be retracted,” but it never was, and that she went to the press to share why she was fired.
The lawsuit, which seeks $1 million in damages, claims Miles was told she had a chance to resign but she never officially did. It added that Miles believed the AG’s office was “fully aware of her political views” and that she was not asked about her thoughts on the 2020 election or the Jan. 6 riot during her interview.
“The defamatory actions of the Defendants will have a lifelong impact on Plaintiff emotionally as she interacts with colleagues and professionally as she attempts to rebuild her professional career,” the lawsuit argues.
According to a May 4 court order, Cavedo found Miles sufficiently pled facts to show she was transparent during her initial interviews and that the AG office’s statement that she wasn’t “could be proven true or false.” Cavedo also found Miles’ claims that she has lost clients due to the statement does reach the level of “defamatory sting” for a lawsuit.
“The court finds that the complaint pleads sufficient facts to show ‘actual malice’ where the Plaintiff alleges facts that show the Defendants published the respective statement with at least reckless disregard of whether it was false or not,” Cavedo wrote in the order.
LaCivita told 8News the attorney general’s office had no comment on the judge’s decision. When the lawsuit was filed in August, LaCivita issued a statement that the AG’s office “commits to vigorously defend against Ms. Miles’ claim for $1 million of taxpayer money and is confident that our legal position is strong.”
Miles’ attorney Steven Krieger said in a statement that a jury trial will be set “in the coming months.”
“OAG’s comments about Monique’s ‘lack of transparency’ were devastating and unfounded and furthermore feed into all the stereotypes about dishonest and untrustworthy attorneys,” Krieger said in a statement. “Monique filed the pending lawsuit to clear her name, set the record straight, and provide her with the same justice that her law firm seeks for her clients.”