Council on Islamic Relations Sues Congressman

December 4, 2003

Source: The Washington Post

On December 4, 2003 The Washington Post reported that "the country's largest Islamic civil liberties group has sued a North Carolina congressman, saying that he defamed the organization when he called it 'the fund-raising arm for Hezbollah' and said that the stress of living near its Washington headquarters had contributed to the breakup of his marriage. The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the suit Tuesday against Republican Cass Ballenger based on comments he made in an Oct. 4 article in the Charlotte Observer. Earlier Tuesday, Ballenger, 76, had announced that he would retire after nine terms in Congress and 38 consecutive years in public office. In the Observer article, Ballenger was quoted as saying that when the council moved into a Capitol Hill office on the same block of New Jersey Avenue SE as his townhouse, it 'bugged the hell' out of his wife, Donna. He said that she grew increasingly nervous about the group's presence after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that women wearing 'hoods' were entering and leaving its office. He also told the newspaper that he had reported the group to the FBI and the CIA."