Former professor James Tracy turns to crowdfunding for legal defense

Tracy, a tenured professor, has dropped the lawyer that the union provided.


James Tracy claimed that FAU fired him because of controversial conspiracy theories he shared on his blog. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Nate Nkumbu, Contributing Writer

Six months ago, James Tracy spoke to classrooms of students about communication theory and  conspiracies.

Now, the former communication professor, who was fired by Florida Atlantic University in December amid controversy, is crowdfunding for a new defense lawyer.  

Tracy, who did not respond to requests for comment, cites in a video on his Fundly page that he was unjustly fired from his position due to his controversial opinions. Those opinions regarded the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, which put Tracy’s name into the national news. He was also accused of harassing one of the victim’s parents about the shooting.

The school said that Tracy was dismissed for not filing a clerical form pertaining to outside activities, as required by the school.

Louis Leo IV, one of the defense attorneys Tracy retained, remarked on the reason his client is crowdfunding for a lawyer.

Having been stripped of his tenured employment, including his salary and benefits, professor Tracy has been left with little choice but to take legal action to defend and restore his constitutional rights and hold Florida Atlantic University accountable for its unlawful conduct,” Leo said to the University Press.

He continued, “Given his present unemployment and the tremendous cost of the pay-to-play U.S. injustice system, is it really any wonder why he would need help funding competent, independent legal representation?”

Robert Zoeller, exercise science professor and president of the FAU Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, said when faculty members are accused of misconduct in the workplace, the grievance process allows them to file complaints and obtain legal representation.

“Tracy was provided a lawyer per the grievance process under the UFF. Tracy would have legal representation provided by the union and its support. If he wanted outside legal representation, he would have to pay out of his own pocket,” Zoeller said.

Zoeller added that Tracy filed a grievance under the agreement that he would stick with the union-provided lawyer. Once he dropped that lawyer, the UFF dropped its support of Tracy.

The Fundly campaign for Tracy needs $10,000 in the next 14 days, and has raised close to $1,900. He has until March 23 to obtain the money needed for the defense.   

On Tracy’s Fundly page he cites the reason why he is crowdfunding for a legal defense: He said that he wishes to retain competent legal representation, assistance with research & ascertaining of facts, and to challenge these injustices.

The University Press contacted James Fetzer creator of the Fundly campaign but he did not respond to requests for comment as of publication time.

Nate Nkumbu is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.