Former congressional candidate sues opponent

Published: June 22, 2022 2:49 PM EDT
Updated: June 22, 2022 4:45 PM EDT

The remnants of a political battle from two years ago are once again heating up. A lawsuit filed in Southwest Florida says tactics in a 2020 Republican primary crossed the line and now former congressional candidate Casey Askar is seeking damages in court.

Askar filed the lawsuit against one of his opponents, Dr. William Figlesthaler, and eight other defendants calling into question their tactics, laying out conspiracy theories and false claims. All of this occurred in an election that was decided by a fraction of a percentage point.

Casey Askar (Credit: Askar campaign)

The final results from the 2020 Republican primary race show Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Casey Askar, and Dr. William Figlesthaler, also known as Dr. Fig, were all separated by about four percentage points.

The lawsuit claims Dr. Fig’s campaign and other defendants disparaged and defamed Askar by spreading “false” information about his education, military service, and marital fidelity.

It also claims that Dr. Fig’s campaign team, and maybe others, prepared fake text messages to make it appear that Byron Donalds had dropped out of the 2020 primary.

Dr. William Figlesthaler (Credit: Dr. Fig campaign)

The texts appeared to come from a Texas-based number; the same state where Askar’s chief political consultant was based. On the morning of August 18th – primary day – Donalds immediately got on Facebook calling out the message.

The suit alleges this was a “last-ditch effort from Dr. Fig’s team” to “frame” Askar and create false controversy.

WINK News reached out to Dr. Fig and all eight of the other defendants listed in the lawsuit, but nobody provided comment.

Attorneys for both Askar and Dr. Fig released the following statements to WINK News about the lawsuit.

Dr. Fig’s statement:

Dr. Figlesthaler’s position is the lawsuit filed against him by his former political opponent, Casey Askar, is completely baseless. Dr. Fig’s Congressional campaign was positive; he ran ads focused on his family, his decades of experience as a top-rated doctor and successful businessman, and his other qualifications to represent our Congressional District. He was not involved in any compilation or publication of negative campaign material about opposing candidates, nor did he ever approve or condone it. He understands there is particular interest in a communication purporting to reflect then Candidate Donalds’ withdrawal from the race. Dr. Fig has no knowledge or information regarding that communication.

Dr. Fig has accepted the results of the 2020 Congressional District 19 primary and general elections, and he feels Congressman Donalds is doing an excellent job so far. Dr. Fig has returned to his professional and private life as physician and family man. He has no interest in going back to politics.

Askar’s statement:

Since the Republican primary election for the House of Representatives seat vacated by Francis Rooney, Casey Askar has been seeking justice. On the day of the election, Askar was defamed by Donalds, who publicly denounced him for masterminding a plot to influence voters by sending out a fake text impersonating him and claiming that he had dropped out of the race.

After years of litigation, Askar has now uncovered shocking evidence that it was actually the Figlesthaler campaign that orchestrated the events of that day in an effort to discredit Askar and steal the election. The fake text was meticulously designed to implicate Askar, imitating an incident that one of Askar’s political consultants had been accused of being involved in years ago and containing references to news reporters from 2012 that were doctored to appear current.

Askar had nothing to do with the text and believes the negative publicity generated by both the Figlesthaler campaign and Donalds manufactured response falsely and publicly accusing him of the act cost him the election and certainly affected its outcome. Askar’s evidence includes voice recording by Figlesthaler campaign representatives using a fake account to send the texts.

After discovering this evidence, Casey Askar stated the following:

“I owe it to myself, those who supported me and the public to expose the truth about these lies. Too long have public figures suffered character assassination by other candidates and political operatives who flagrantly lie to affect the outcome of an election and then hide and avoid accountability. We do not want these people as our representatives and must expose them.”