It took four entire paragraphs in James Tracy's latest news release before he accused someone of orchestrating a conspiracy. We can only imagine how long that wait must have felt for him.
Tracy, who was fired from his tenured position as a Florida Atlantic University professor in January after the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim said the professor had harassed them, sued Florida Atlantic today to get his job back.
Tracy famously taught a course at the school called "Culture of Conspiracy." He made a name for himself claiming that virtually every tragedy of the past three years — from the Boston Marathon bombings to the Ferguson protests — were orchestrated by the government and "corporate" media. Tracy rose to infamy claiming that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, was actually staged by the Obama administration so the government could take everyone's guns away.
He is the national face for the "Sandy Hook Truther" movement, which aims to expose the government's apparent lies about the way Sandy Hook went down. This is all well and good, if not for the fact that Tracy's theories have been debunked left and right and that the entire campaign seems centered on pestering the parents of murdered children.
In December, Lenny Pozner, whose son Noah was killed in the shooting, published an op-ed in the Sun Sentinel claiming that Tracy had been harassing his family. Tracy, the Pozners said, had demanded to see some sort of "proof" that their son ever existed at all. (The Pozners have also accused Boca Raton Police of ignoring Tracy's harassment.) After a massive public outcry — and a national media frenzy — Florida Atlantic fired Tracy, claiming he'd failed to properly disclose any outside money he'd been making. Tracy was given ten days to fight to a "Notice of Termination" the school sent him. The school says he didn't even bother responding.
But since then, Tracy has vowed to fight for his job back. He set up a crowdfunding website to mount a legal defense and has raised more than $2,100 from 39 people. He hired a lawyer named Lewis Leo IV, who, according to the domain-registry site WhoIs.com, owns a website called People Over Politics, which publishes articles on conspiracy theories. (Tracy also tried to knuckle up with CNN's Anderson Cooper in the meantime.)
Today, Tracy and Leo officially sued the school, some of its administrators, the United Faculty of Florida (FAU's faculty union), the Florida Education Association, and "two faculty union representatives and officials who conspired with and aided the University’s administrators in violating Tracy’s constitutional and contractual rights," according to a post on Tracy's website, memoryholeblog.com. Tracy alleges that FAU violated his rights to free speech as well as his rights to due process in firing him.
In the post, Tracy implied that the Sun Sentinel had defamed him and claimed his union representatives failed to properly respond to his firing notice:
After a defamatory local and national media attack concerning Tracy’s online postings in early 2013 (e.g. here and here), [Note: links were Tracy's, not ours] officials at FAU threatened Tracy with disciplinary action. The University’s Administration withdrew its first threat following intervention by Tracy’s UFF and FEA representatives. However, in late 2015 and early 2016, when school officials at FAU attempted to change the University’s vague and confusing “Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities” policy and to discipline and terminate Tracy’s tenured appointment for questioning it, Tracy’s faculty union betrayed him.
Despite repeated assurances from FAU faculty union representatives and officials at UFF and FEA that a response and grievance would be filed to contest the University’s unconstitutional disciplinary action, his representatives failed to file a grievance or respond to FAU’s Notice of Discipline on Tracy’s behalf, as required, which resulted in Tracy’s automatic termination by Florida Atlantic University on January 6, 2016.
The lawsuit seeks Tracy’s reinstatement and monetary relief, including compensation for economic and reputational damage suffered.
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He then warned readers not to trust "corporate media" like the Palm Beach Post.
Leo, Tracy's lawyer, told New Times via email that the professor would not be available to speak and that his team is "extremely busy this week" and cannot immediately comment. We'll update the post if any of that changes.
In the meantime, here's a copy of Tracy's complaint: