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Sweigert v. Perez

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 20, 2018

GEORGE WEBB SWEIGERT, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS PEREZ, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS RE DOCUMENT NOS. 17, 19, 20, 22, 26

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se plaintiff George Webb Sweigert brings this putative class action against a host of individuals and entities purportedly associated with the Democratic National Party-including Haseeb Rana, Theresa Grafenstine, the Democratic National Committee (“the DNC”), [1] Deborah Wasserman Schultz, and Huma Abedin-in connection with alleged actions taken by Defendants during the Democratic primaries to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. See generally Compl., ECF No. 1; see Id. ¶¶ 4-13. In particular, Mr. Sweigert, an alleged supporter of Bernie Sanders, claims that Defendants committed fraud and breach of fiduciary duty by, among other things, conducting a website-hacking conspiracy to promote Hillary Clinton's candidacy and to diminish the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Id. ¶ 31. Defendants Haseeb Rana, the DNC, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, Theresa Grafenstine, and Huma Abedin each move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3), this order applies to all Defendants, not just those who have responded, because no named Defendant bears a causal relation to Mr. Sweigert's alleged injury in fact.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In the 2016 Presidential election's Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton won the party's nomination over Bernie Sanders and other candidates. Mr. Sweigert, an alleged supporter of Bernie Sanders, claims that he contributed $30 to Bernie Sanders's Presidential campaign, donating through ActBlue, a fundraising non-profit.[2] Compl. ¶ 2. Mr. Sweigert alleges that Defendants, all but Theresa Grafenstine (“Ms. Grafenstine”), orchestrated a hacking conspiracy designed to tip the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton. Id. ¶¶ 32-36.

         First, Mr. Sweigert alleges that Defendants, other than Ms. Grafenstine, defrauded donors to the DNC and to Bernie Sanders by “engineer[ing] a sophisticated email phishing attack” against Bernie Sanders supporters and “concoct[ing] a false narrative that the Russian government had been responsible” for the attack. See Id. ¶¶ 33, 35. In particular, Plaintiff claims that Defendants undertook this attack by creating a URL similar to that of ActBlue, a fundraising non-profit, and designed to route funds intended for Bernie Sanders to bank accounts operated by Deborah Wasserman Schultz and/or Imran Awan. Id. ¶ 33. Mr. Sweigert theorizes that the DNC, in allegedly propagating a false narrative about the supposed hacking, intended that the statements would induce the DNC donor class to provide contributions, statements upon which DNC donors actually relied, alleges Mr. Sweigert, thus amounting to fraud. See Id. ¶¶ 34- 37.

         Second, Mr. Sweigert claims that Defendants breached their alleged fiduciary duty to Mr. Sweigert and to all Democratic donors when certain Defendants:

(a) “[h]acked key Congressional communications systems such as iConstituent and InterAmerica, ” thus creating a spy ring out of the U.S. House of representatives. Id. ¶ 42.
(b) “[u]sed an illegal email/dropbox combination in the [U.S.] House of Representatives . . . to share information with representative[s] of foreign governments including Pakistan and the UAE for the purpose of economic espionage . . . .” Id. ¶ 45
(c) “[e]ngag[ed] in a pay to play scheme, moving privileged, private communication[s] from iConstituent Congressional servers located in the U.S. House of Representatives and DNC servers . . . to Anthony Weiner's laptop . . . .” Id. ¶ 46.
(d) Handled iPhones and iPads intended only for Congressional use. Id. ¶ 47.
(e) Conspired to create fake employees under the name “PeopleSoft” in the House of Representatives Human Resources system and sent payments from fake employee accounts and from the U.S. Congressional Federal Credit Union. Id. ¶¶ 48-49.
(f) Took electronic devices such as thumb drives, hard drives, and laptops containing trade secrets and traded these devices to “business entities” in Pakistan. Id. ¶ 50.

         Based on these allegations, Mr. Sweigert filed suit in this Court claiming that Defendants committed fraud and breached fiduciary duties owed to Plaintiff and to members of the putative classes.[3] Defendants Haseeb Rana, the DNC, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, Theresa Grafenstine, and Huma Abedin move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Defendants' motions are now ripe for decision.

         III. ...


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