Former Parler CEO John Matze sues company
In a lawsuit filed in Nevada this week, Matze charged conservative financier Rebekah Mercer of plotting to "force Matze out" as CEO of Parler and "steal" his 40% stake, following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. "This scheme is epitomized by oppression, fraud, and malice, for which Matze is entitled to punitive damages trebling (at a minimum) the millions that he is owed in compensatory damages," the complaint reads.
The complaint describes the days after the Jan. 6 riot, during which Apple and AWS removed Parler from their services, citing a swell of calls for violence. According to the complaint, Matze proposed new rules for the app that would "preserve the right of free expression for all points of view, but would preclude content that is inciting violence and acts of domestic terrorism." The complaint says Matze's proposal "was met with dead silence."
"Parler was now being hijacked to advance the personal political interests and personal advantages of Defendants rather than serve as the free expression platform as originally conceived," the complaint reads, referring to Mercer.
The complaint says that Matze was fired soon after "without reason," and that the company determined the value of his 40% interest would be $3.
Matze is suing Parler, as well as a range of defendants — including Mercer, current Parler CEO Mark Meckler, Parler investor Jeffrey Wernick and conservative personality Dan Bongino, who the complaint alleges became a "public relations 'bulldog'" for Parler. Matze accuses the various defendants of a range of wrongdoings, from breach of contract to defamation.
NPR reporter Bobby Allyn first noted the suit on Twitter Tuesday.