From the September 1999 Idaho Observer:

Area attorney files suit against Spokesman-Review, Bonner Daily Bee for slander, libel

SANDPOINT -- North Idaho Attorney Edgar Steele filed civil actions against the Spokesman-Review and the Bonner County Daily Bee in Idaho District Court August 24, 1999. Steele is demanding a jury trial to prosecute charges of libel, libel per se, invasion of privacy and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Steele's complaint against the Spokesman-Review illustrates five counts of libel contained in Bill Morlin's July 23, 1999 article headlined "Aryan Nations Hires New Attorney." Steele contends that the article contained "numerous false allegations and innuendo" that were designed to paint himself with the same brush that the newspaper has historically painted the Aryan Nations and the 11th Hour Messenger -- as liars, hate mongers, racists and Nazis. Steele also believes that the Spokesman-Review intentionally left readers with the false impression that he was the mastermind of highly suspect fiscal behavior.

The Bonner County Daily Bee's article of August 1, 1999, "Butler lawyer asking for donations over the Internet," furthered public perception that Steele was engaging in potentially criminal fund raising activities. Steele has also charged the Bonner Bee with five counts of libel.

After the articles came out, Steele and his children began receiving death threats that were serious enough to send his family away for a couple of weeks. Steele has also been threatened by people all over the world via email. People that have known him for decades have suddenly become uncommunicative.

"What people do not understand is that I am not just representing Richard Butler on a civil assault charge; I am defending the First Amendment rights to free speech and free thought," Steele explained.

Morris Dees, a man who states publicly that he is "in the business of bankrupting bigots" is suing Butler for an assault that he did not himself commit but may have approved (The Idaho Observer, August, 1999).

Steele, who will be representing himself in the libel actions against the Cowles and Hagadone newspapers, thinks that the trials will begin in about a year.

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