James Tracy Crowd-Funds Legal Defense

James Tracy Crowd-Funds Legal Defense

James Tracy believes he has been wronged. Tracy, formerly a tenured Florida Atlantic University media professor, was fired earlier this month, technically for refusing to fill out some clerical forms at the school.

If this seems like a dubious reason to fire someone, Tracy had, at the same time, been accused of harassing the parents of a child who was shot and killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Tracy, a prominent Sandy Hook “truther,” believes that the massacre never happened and that it was instead staged by the Obama administration in order to build support for gun control. (Tracy’s theories have been debunked many times over, but here is an easy breakdown from Salon.) New Times has spoken to multiple students who claim Tracy taught his theories during publicly funded class time.

After the parents of one of the victims, Noah Pozner, wrote a Sun Sentinel op-ed claiming Tracy had repeatedly harassed him and his wife and asked them to prove their son ever existed at all, Florida Atlantic moved to fire Tracy. Tracy, on his blog, memoryholeblog.com, claims that it was actually the Pozners who had been stalking and harassing him.

When Tracy was served his notice of termination, he was given ten days to respond and dispute the claim. The university says he didn’t, and, thus, he was fired. But now, Tracy has retained a lawyer and set up a crowd-funding page to mount a legal defense.

At the time of his firing, Tracy was a member of the state’s faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida, and, according to an op-ed the faculty union’s president published in the Sun Sentinel on January 19, had originally asked the union for legal help. Per that agreement, the op-ed said, Tracy agreed not to retain any additional lawyers on his own:

“"I hereby request Florida Education Association and the NEA Kate Dushane Fund to provide legal services or the expense thereof. I am aware I may seek and pay for my own attorney if I desire and that the services of FEA attorneys will cease should I choose another attorney,” Tracy said, according to the op-ed.

But after Tracy hired his own lawyer anyway, the union said it had ceased representing him.

On Monday, Tracy announced on his blog that he has instead set up a legal defense fund for himself, with the sole purpose of “researching and ascertaining the facts” pertinent to his case. It is unclear if Tracy is fighting for his job back at this time, but he has set up a crowd-funding page on the website fundly.com, which says the fund was “established as a nonprofit charity by Dr. James Tracy and other concerned scholars in January 2016 to protect academic freedom and free speech in the United States.” The fund aims to raise $10,000 in the next 27 days. As of Thursday morning, six people had donated a total of $440.

Per the legal defense fund’s website, Tracy has also retained a Broward lawyer named Louis Leo IV. In addition to working as a lawyer, Leo, according to his own website, founded a blog called People Over Politics, which regularly publishes articles promoting conspiracy theories. Though Leo did not respond to a call from New Times, the domain-ownership database whoIs.com lists Leo as the site’s owner.

The site largely aggregates content from other sources, but most of its original writing promotes garden-variety liberal causes, like ending police brutality and campaign finance reform. However, the site has also posted (or reposted) stories aiming to expose the “dangers” of vaccines or the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.

Regarding 9/11, it says: “Countless military officers, pilots, scholars and yes, even magicians are publicly denouncing the widely discredited 'official' narrative and calling for a new investigation,” a year-old post on the site reads.

But it all, however, comes with a hefty disclaimer:

“The views and opinions expressed in any of the media, articles, comments or information we have shared do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by our organization or its members. Furthermore, we do not warrant the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any of the information that has been shared and we hope you will use your own judgment and common sense before jumping to any conclusions about what we’ve posted or why.”

New Times implores you to do the same.

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