Dallas tax consulting firm Ryan Sues USA Today owner for defamation, refusing to pay fees

Dallas consulting firm Ryan is suing one of the largest media corporations in the country, claiming it refused to pay fees for tax services and defamed the company in news stories published in USA Today.

Ryan sued Gannett, the owner of USA Today, in a district court in Montgomery County, Texas, on Tuesday. Its lawsuit alleges Gannett refuses to pay Ryan “hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax savings” as a fee for helping it save over $ 2 million in taxes.

Gannett chief communications officer Lark-Marie Anton declined to comment on the suit. She said Gannett and USA Today are no longer clients of Ryan.

The lawsuit said USA Today defamed the firm in numerous “articles, podcasts, tweets and other false communications,” one of which was a July 2021 investigative story about the relationship between Ryan founder and CEO G. Brint Ryan and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. The suit alleges that USA Today falsely accused “Ryan… of unlawful and unethical business practices in its efforts to secure legitimate tax savings for its clients.”

The USA Today story also didn’t disclose its relationship with Ryan’s firm to its readers, according to the suit. Ryan said it requested “corrections, retractions and other remedies” over the past eight months before suing. It’s seeking over 1 million in damages.

“We could not sit idly by and allow a major news organization to misrepresent our business,” G. Brint Ryan said in a statement. “We are exceptionally proud of the legitimate tax savings we’ve secured for our global clients, including USA Today‘s parent company, Gannett. “

Ryan has long been an active political donor in Texas.

Ryan LLC runs a political action committee that has donated nearly $ 258,000 to Republicans in the last four election cycles, according to Open Secrets. The PAC also donated 32,500 to Democrats during that time.

From 2000 to 2014, Brint Ryan donated over million 5 million to campaigns, according to a 2014 The Dallas Morning News article, and he was finance chairman of three super PACs that raised almost 17 million for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s failed presidential run in 2016. In April 2020, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made Ryan chair of a business task force designed to boost the Texas economy once businesses could reopen. He supported former President Donald Trump in 2016 and sponsored an event at the University of North Texas that hosted Donald Trump Jr. in 2017.

Ryan, which generated an estimated 30 630 million in revenue in 2020, describes itself as the largest firm devoted exclusively to business taxes. It boasts over 18,000 clients in 60 countries and employs 3,500 people.

Last month, the firm sold a “significant minority equity interest” in it to one of Wall Street’s most prominent investment firms, Ares Management Corp. The undisclosed investment amount boosts Ryan’s valuation to $ 2.5 billion, according to a joint statement from Ryan and Onex Corp., an earlier investor in the company.

The companies didn’t address whether Ryan’s management team, Onex or Ares holds the controlling stake. The transaction with Ares, which had $ 325 billion in assets under management as of March 31, is expected to close later this year. Toronto-based Onex spent $ 317 million in 2018 to buy a 42% stake in Ryan, which the company said at the time gave it a $ 1.1 billion valuation.

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