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Letitia James’s Offensive Against VDARE is Harrowing for Free Speech 

The New York attorney general’s political battle extends beyond the presidential campaign.


After spending several years hauling the former President Donald Trump through court in an attempt to puncture his bottom line, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James is now employing the same lawfare tactics against VDARE, an anti-immigration website. This appears to be a war, not of laws, but of ideology, where the stakes are nothing less than the foundational principles of free speech and dissent.

“I launched VDARE.com on Christmas Eve 1999,” wrote Peter Brimelow, VDARE’s founder and editor, on Friday. “So it is perhaps appropriate that, on Good Friday 2024, the anniversary of Christ’s death, I must announce VDARE.com’s crucifixion by New York State’s communist Attorney General Letitia James.”


VDARE has not been charged with any crime, yet has “fought NYAG Letitia James, at a cost of up to $1 million, for nearly three years.” An onslaught of onerous subpoenas marks not a quest for justice but an orchestrated attempt to financially and morally bankrupt those who dare resist the liberal creed. 

Letitia James’s electoral platform was built on this very promise: she vowed to “shine a bright light into every dark corner of [Donald Trump’s] real estate dealings,” just like she promised to “take tougher legal action on organizations that engage in…online hate speech against protected classes.” Except, James cannot actually take legal action against VDARE for their “hate speech against protected classes” because everything that VDARE writes is protected by the pesky First Amendment. 

So she has been digging for a reason, any reason, to bring them both down, desperately searching for anything that could be construed as a misstep. “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men,” said Cardinal Richelieu, “I will find something in them which will hang him.”

After years of aimless fishing expeditions, what James has latched onto is VDARE’s real estate dealings, just as she latched onto Trump’s real estate dealings. In 2020, the VDARE foundation bought a castle for $1.4 million in West Virginia to use as a conference space because hotels kept canceling their meetings. (Similarly, VDARE can’t get any bank to enable credit card donations.) They needed a cancel-proof event space. 

VDARE is hardly the first charitable organization to buy a nice conference space. The American Institute for Economic Research has its own mansion, and the Aspen Institute has its own ski resort. And who can forget Black Lives Matter buying a $6 million dollar mansion to use for parties?


The legal case against VDARE’s castle now appears to hinge on whether or not the founders of VDARE use it as their personal dwelling. In December, President of the VDARE foundation Lydia Brimelow (Peter Brimelow’s wife) denied she lived there: “It’s not our home. It’s our office,” she said. “That’s a very important distinction. It is not our home. We do not live here. We have a house with our family, which is not this house.” One month later, New York trial court judge Sabrina Kraus ruled that the Brimelows “paid rent to live in the cottage [on castle grounds]...and Lydia Brimelow signed the document as both landlord and tenant.” (Per Brimelow, his family was paying independently determined rent to the VDARE Foundation, a distinct 501(c)(3) charity, in a transaction that had been carefully reviewed by VDARE’s lawyers.)

Was it wise for VDARE’s management to buy a flashy castle and pay their own 501(c)3 rent to live on its grounds? Probably not; they painted a target on their back, but Letitia James is taking shots at it only because they’re conservative. This has become familiar. For example: Think of how many thousands of real estate moguls have inflated their asset values to obtain favorable loan terms, and think of why Donald Trump is the only one to be prosecuted for it. VDARE’s case is as much about their castle as Donald Trump’s case is really about favorable loan terms. 

As part of this investigation, Letitia James is demanding that VDARE hand over 40 gigabytes of emails which “could in fact reveal the names of [our] pseudonymous writers, as well as our donors.” VDARE’s donors and writers wish to remain anonymous because they will lose their jobs—or worse—if their identities are linked to what they support online. While the court has ostensibly extended a courtesy by permitting VDARE to redact their names from these emails, the estimated fees for such redactions are projected to come to $150,000. This presents VDARE with a stark dilemma: incur a hefty $150,000 expense to protect the anonymity of its donors and writers, or risk revealing their identities. The lesson here is that if your speech falls outside the Overton window, the state of New York will aggressively attempt to bankrupt and/or doxx you. 

In this crucial moment, when the principles of free speech are under direct threat, the silence from prominent conservative outlets is deafening. The American Conservative is not afraid to stand up for free speech, but where is Con Inc.? Crickets. Fox News, Ben Shapiro, National Review, and the MAGAverse, among others, must recognize the slippery slope they tread by allowing VDARE to face this battle alone. Today’s targeting of VDARE sets a precedent for the suppression of any form of dissent tomorrow. 

This moment demands more than passive support for free speech—it requires active defense, especially of unfashionable speech that challenges or discomforts. The absence of solidarity today not only betrays a lack of genuine commitment to free speech but also risks validating a future where such “lawfare” becomes a standard tactic to silence opposition, leaving no voice safe from suppression. 

This article has been updated to clarify that VDARE’s 501(c)(3) is the recipient of castle rents.