El Presidente’s Flack Says Forbes Defamed Her


MANHATTAN (CN) – A former spokeswoman for Mexico’s ex-president Felipe Calderón seeks punitive damages from Forbes Magazine, claiming its putting her on the “10 Most Corrupt Mexicans of 2013” is defamatory and “completely unjustified.”
     Alejandra Sota Mirafuentes sued Forbes Media, Forbes.com, NSGV, and Forbes contributor Dolia Estevez on Tuesday in Federal Court.
     When Calderón left office in 2012, Sota says, she started a communications consulting business and enrolled in a graduate program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
     On Dec. 6, 2013, Forbes published an article online listing Sota as one of the “10 Most Corrupt Mexicans of 2013.”
     The article, which put Sota 10th on the list, reported : “Alejandra Sota, former President Calderón’s spokesperson, is being investigated by Mexican authorities for alleged embezzlement and trafficking of influence. She is suspected of favoring friends and former classmates with government contracts during the time she served as a top government official. She is currently attending graduate school at Harvard’s Kennedy School even though she has no college degree.”
     The list was compiled by Dolia Estevez. Sota claims in the lawsuit that Estevez “published the article as part of a campaign against Ms. Sota that began with Mexican media conglomerate MVS, where MVS wanted but did not get a sweetheart deal from the Calderón administration.”
     It continues: “Ms. Estevez had for many years worked for MVS, and Ms. Estevez included Ms. Sota in the Forbes article because Ms. Sota and the Calderón administration had refused to provide MVS with a low-price renewal deal for a valuable spectrum license” for radio broadcasting.
     Estevez’s biography on Forbes.com states that she is “currently Washington correspondent for Noticias MVS, Mexico’s #1 radio news station.”
     The Forbes “Most Corrupt” article included former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, his brother Raul Salinas de Gortari, Calderón’s former Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna, two powerful union leaders and four former state governors.
     Sota claims her inclusion in the Top 10 list was “completely unjustified,” and an act of retaliation for her anti-corruption activities under the Calderón administration.
     Forbes updated the article after it received a letter from Sota objecting to her inclusion. An update now states that Sota has been “cleared” in the cited corruption investigation.
     But Sota says in her lawsuit that “the updated article continues to list Ms. Sota as one of the most corrupt Mexicans, simply ignoring the fact that the only real reason for listing Ms. Sota in the first place was the investigation, which resulted in no finding of any wrongdoing by Ms. Sota. The decision by Forbes and Ms. Estevez to continue to list Ms. Sota, in spite of that favorable outcome, is completely unjustified and reflects actual malice by both Forbes and Ms. Estevez.”
     Sota seeks punitive damages for defamation, emotional distress and interference with business relations.
     She is represented by Jonathan Sherman in Washington, D.C.

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