Intoxication or Defamation or Both? Oklahoma Congressional Candidate Embroiled in Bizarre Incident at Slumber Party

Abby Broyles, a candidate for Congress, is embroiled in a bizarre controversy where she is accused of verbally abusing teenage girls at a slumber party and throwing up in a laundry basket and a girl’s shoe. That is not exactly a “chicken in every pot” type of political pitch. However, I am more interested in the legal than the political aspect of this case. My students and I often use such controversies to discuss the scope or application of torts theories. This one raises a couple of novel elements. Broyles initially called these girls and their parents liars behind a political hit job. She also allegedly threatened to sue a media outlet for running the allegations. The question is whether she could now be sued for defamation.

A journalist and a lawyer, Broyles is a Democratic candidate for the 5th congressional district and is running on slogans of “ensuring all voices are heard” and “holding politicians accountable.”

As bad as this story is, it is worth noting that Broyles is not the first person to allegedly say terrible things while intoxicated. The problem is when you are a public figure who then attacks your accusers in the media, particularly minors.


Broyles is accused of going to a friend’s house on Feb. 11th and drinking wine throughout the night. According to, she began to hurl profane insults at the girls including calling girls an “acne f–ker,” “Hispanic f–ker,” and “judgy f–ker.” She is accused of later vomiting into a laundry basket as well as a girl’s shoe. One girl reportedly left in tears.

That alone could be the basis for a tort action but what happened next is the more interesting tort issue.

The girls tweeted, as teenagers are known to do. Broyles responded by calling them and their parents liars: “I saw the tweets. I have been out of town on a fundraising trip, and they are awful and offensive and false. I mean, I get trolled on Twitter all the time, but I don’t know these women and I don’t know what is behind this, but it’s just not true.”


Broyles said that the girl’s mothers were part of an organized political attack against her and that the allegations were “cooked up.” She also reportedly threatened NonDoc with a defamation action.

Parents like Sarah Matthews cried foul as the allegations flew on social media.

Then Broyles admitted that she was at the party but claimed that she never denied being at the party. She said that her friend handed her a medication which gave her an “adverse reaction” causing her to hallucinate.  That itself is a notable allegation because, if the medication was not prescribed to Broyles, that is a separate legal problem for the friend if this was a controlled medication.

“She asked me to come over.  She asked me to bring some wine. We had wine and sushi and a couple of hours later, we were upstairs in their theater room watching a movie. For years I have struggled with stress and anxiety and insomnia. I took the bar exam on 2 hours of sleep.  I mean, this is how far this goes back for me. And she knows that. And she gave me a medication I had never taken before. And I had an adverse reaction. Instead of helping me sleep, I hallucinated. And I don’t remember anything until I woke up or came to, and I was throwing up in a hamper.”

Valium is a Schedule IV controlled substance and it is a crime in most states to possess such drugs without a prescription or distribute such drugs without a license.

It is certainly well-known that such mixing of medications and alcohol can produce extreme (and out-of-character) conduct.  I know people who, even without alcohol, have had such bizarre reactions to medications. Broyles was clearly intoxicated and out-of-control. What Broyles described can happen and, in fairness, it should be weighed in judging her conduct.

The issue, however, will be the denials. It is not clear if Broyles is saying that she was still under the influence of the drug/alcohol mix or whether that produced gaps in her memory.

Broyles later apologized to the parent and added “you don’t know me.” She said “I would never ever say anything hurtful. I’ve never, ever would say something hurtful like those things. And that’s why I know I was not in my right mind. I know that that’s what happened because of that combination of things. And I deeply, deeply regret it.”

However, she denied the NonDoc account and said she “never told them that I wasn’t there.”

The Editor-in-Chief of then reportedly played a recording of the conversation to another media outlet. Broyles then said that “That phone call was terrifying and caught me off guard. I remember hearing the accusations and just repeating ‘no, no, no’ and then hanging up. I was happy to be in the TikTok video with the girls which was obvious proof of my attendance.”


There is no question that the post-party comments are defamatory. Broyles accused these parents and girls of lying and being part of a political hit job.

Defamation involves a statement that “tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating with him.”

These parents and teenagers are presumably not public figures or limited public figures. As such, the standard in Oklahoma is similar to other states, a private figure generally must show:

1) a false and defamatory statement, (2) an unprivileged publication to a third party, (3) fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and (4) either the actionability of the statement irrespective of special damage, or the existence of special damage caused by the publication.

Mitchell, 60 P.3d at 1061see also Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 1441.

Those elements are met. The question is whether it matters that Broyles could claim that she was intoxicated or possibly had gaps in memory. Defamation generally attaches to the publication or statement. The tort has historically been based on negligence, not intent. However, this case adds an interesting twist. Broyles is saying that she was given a medication without understanding how it would affect her. “Fault” does raise the full circumstances of a statement.

Consider this: if someone is “slipped a Mickey” or a party drug without her knowledge (clearly not the case here), is she still liable if she proceeded to make out-of-control and defamatory statements?

Broyles clearly admits that she knew that she was taking the medication (presumably something like valium). Yet, she is claiming that she lost control unexpectedly and unintentionally. That mixing is known to lower inhibitions and disorientation  due to the chemical combination:

Both alcohol and Valium have similar effects on brain chemistry and the body. For instance, both increase levels of some of the brain’s chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that helps with mood regulation, impulse control, and some memory functions. A spike in dopamine amplifies feelings of pleasure and happiness. GABA, on the other hand, is a kind of natural tranquilizer, dampening the “fight-or-flight” reaction and promoting relaxation and sedation. When two substances like alcohol and Valium are taken at the same time, levels of dopamine and GABA are increased even more than they would be if only one of these substances was taken. This can cause a person to become intoxicated much faster.

So, assuming that Broyles had such a reaction (which is plausible given the extreme conduct and comments), can she still be held in defamation for statements prompted by such a dangerous combination? The answer is that she can still be liable though a jury could ultimately reject the claim on the fault element.

In this case, Broyles would have to claim that the drug/alcohol combination continued to impact her following the slumber party. It is hard to judge the timeline or merits of such a claim. However, it is possible for people to have blacked out memories, but again the defamatory statements were technically made.

What do you think?

42 thoughts on “Intoxication or Defamation or Both? Oklahoma Congressional Candidate Embroiled in Bizarre Incident at Slumber Party”

  1. Well, if she lied about being given drugs then that is bigger problem. She is bearing a false testimony.

  2. Interesting choice of wine for your photo. I wasn’t familiar with Ch. Monbadon so I did a little digging. Their wines get good reviews and is recommended as a buy and cellar for 5+ years. Btw, 2015 was a great year for Bordeaux (and Burgundy + many other red wine growing regions). I hope that you enjoyed it.

  3. I don’t blame anyone who has a bad reaction to a medication. My father used to work with someone at the DOD who had a rather spectacularly bad reaction on a plane to a medication he was prescribed to combat jet lag.

    I do hold people accountable to what they say while sober.

    I do hold people accountable to share prescription meds with friends, who who take meds given by friends or whomever. If you want or need a prescription medication, go to a doctor. These medications are prescription only for a reason.

    Since Broyles demonstrably lied about what happened, it makes me wonder if her friend gave her medication, or if she was abusing prescription drugs she obtained, which mixed badly with alcohol.

    The way she handled her poor behavior just made the situation worse.

    When you’ve done wrong, admit it, and apologize. This escapes many politicians.

  4. There are two components to this story. The political demonstrates the character of a future politician. The parents of the slumber party girls trusted the adult chaperones with the care and well being of their children. This should not involve alcohol or non prescribed medications in any form.

    The personal side of this is another matter. When it hits social media unfiltered, there is little chance for a plausible defense of reputation. The damage is done and the case is tried in the court of public opinion.

    I would love to see a political candidate or anyone in leadership who has done anything wrong to say it and truly mean it, “I was wrong. Please forgive me. It won’t happen again. I fully accept the consequences of my actions. I will do everything in my power to make it right.”

    She, the candidate, should follow her own slogan and remove herself from her candidacy and from ever considering a political office.

    I hope she seeks and receives help. Every human deserves the benefit of the doubt and a fair defense.

    “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”



    2. EM:

      I would respect a politician who admitted they made a mistake, and apologized. The problem is that PR companies who script apologies when the candidate is caught dead to rights are not sincere. They are attempts to save their career.

      A prompt acknowledgement of the wrong, and an unreserved apology would go far to rehabilitating the political class.

  5. Biologically male camp counselors who identify as female were allowed to sleep in cabins with fifth-grade girls during a school trip near San Bernardino, Calif., according to local media.

    This has led to outrage among parents, several of whom said they would have made other arraignments if they had known about the camp’s policy of “placing staff in cabins they identify with” based on California law, according to KTLA.

    “No parent should feel the way I feel after knowing what could have happened to my daughter,” said parent Suzy Johnson.

    1. Oh for heaven’s sake, this craze with allowing biological males, with male parts, into female sleeping quarters, showers, and changing areas is so dangerous.

      When will the safety of women and girls matter? And by “women and girls”, I’m applying the biological, scientific definition.

  6. Jonathan: What do I think? I think this post is just another example of you desperately trying to change the subject. Most of us out here are probably not lawyers. The Broyles case might appeal to your torts students. As for me, what happens in Oklahoma should stay in Oklahoma. If you want to talk about defamation you could discuss all the nasty and defamatory things Tucker Carlson is saying about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Carlson calls a 2018 video of OAC “an invitation to a booty call”. He has used other demeaning and vile personal attacks against AOC. Carlson’s attacks are cold, intentional and calculated to invite incitement against a House member. That’s “actual malice”. Richard Signorelli, former US Attorney, has told AOC: “Please consider a lawsuit against Fox and Carlson”. The Carlson/AOC controversy would seem the perfect case for discussion. But as Fox’s go to paid “legal analyst” you are naturally not inclined to put Fox in the legal spotlight. You know the limits of what is permissible legal discussion when it involves Fox. If I were in your torts class I would raise my hand and ask: “Excuse me, Professor, can we discuss the Carlson/ AOC controversy rather than an obscure case in Oklahoma?”

    1. Dennis:

      Tucker Carlson noted some extremely strange passages from the book, “Take Up Space: The Unprecedented AOC.” This book has been widely panned, as it fawningly compared AOC to Jesus Christ. Whether you like, or don’t like, AOC, comparing her to God should be ludicrous to any rational person.

      The book has many passages that come across as overly fawning, and sometimes creepy. Tucker pointed out the off-putting, sexualized nature of the rhetoric in this passage:

      “She has no agenda, nothing in particular to get off her chest. It really is as if she were exhausted and wanting to talk. ‘I’m alone today,’ she says pointedly at the camera.”

      Carlson called Ocasio-Cortez’ comments “a little strange” and said she was “definitely oversharing.”

      “The person who wrote this didn’t even perceive how creepy it was,” Carlson said. “‘I’m alone today, Ocasio-Cortez says pointedly at the camera.’ Is it just us or does that sound like an invitation to a booty call? Maybe one step from ‘What are you wearing?'”

      Tucker Carlson was not saying that AOC invites her followers for a booty call. He took issue with the markedly weird rhetoric of the book, which described the scene thusly.

      Do you see the difference?

      Imagine an author described Hilary Clinton, lounging in an armchair in front of a roaring fire, clad in her pant suit, swirling brandy in a snifter while running a finger over her pearls, and staring longingly into the camera. It’s like she’s saying, she’s alone today, so please come over.


      If anyone shuddered, and said that sounded like a booty call or sexualized rhetoric, it would obviously be a criticism of the author, not HC herself.

    2. I assume you’re on this site because you have an interest in legal issues.

      I’ve worked on defamation cases and the the interesting case, from a legal perspective, is the Oklahoma case. The Tucker situation isn’t interesting because it’s not an edge case…even if one dislikes Tucker’s approach.

      Even more interesting to me is why have so many Americans have turned against free speech?

      -Are people unable to see or are so historically ignorant that they don’t realize eventually they or their loved ones or both will be silenced?

      -Or do they just assume it’s going to happen so it might as well be “my team” that does the silencing first?

      -Or is the anger and division so strong that rational thought on this subject has flown out the window?

      I’m just grateful that Turley and others like him continue to write in defense of free speech and explore the grey areas of what is protected.

    3. Ha. If only your AOC example were even legally interesting.

      1) Incitement? Certainly not in any legal sense (which is what you presumably are claiming). Tucker would have to be calling for violence — calling out a booty call would not be an invitation for rape — and there’d have to be actual violence by someone claiming to be following Tucker’s “instructions”.
      2) Carlson is referring to a public figure, for which there is a higher standard for defamation.
      3) A hyperbolic (and clearly rhetorical) question implying that words/behavior have implications (e.g. asking if AOC was seeking a ‘booty call’) is not an accusation or a demonstrably false characterization.

  7. We hold drivers accountable for what they do while drunk, why not politicians? But the defamation came while sober, so even more reason to hold her accountable. But being publicly shamed and parents publicly vindicated might be enough to right the wrong of being called liars.

  8. Is there video? Some enterprising GOP candidate or PAC could make that a quite effective addition to an advertisement showing ‘typical’ Democrat behavior, right alongside Maxine Waters many video’d inflammatory incitements, just to name one that Turley mentioned just today in the piece about the Judge’s ruling not to allow Donald Trump’s dismissal motion in the case brought by the Capitol Police. As Sonny and Cher sang years ago, ‘And the Beat Goes On.’

  9. Let’s look at her conduct while she was sober. She claimed she was out of town at the time of the slumber party. How crazy must one be to think that is going to work?

    1. yeah but…her reaction to the supposed ‘valium’ was to trip out. Maybe she hallucinated being out of town.

      I think it’s clear that the original denial was her gut reaction out of panic. The ‘drugged out’ claim was after she spoke with her lawyers. If she were sued, I don’t see how she’d get away with claiming her denials were based on intoxication.

  10. From a physician point of view I think you would need to clearly establish whether Broyles had been drinking first and was clearly impaired. 2nd the friend bears some responsibility if she gave an anxiety medication to someone whose judgement was impaired by alcohol use. If Broyles was not impaired by alcohol she clearly should know alcohol and anxiety medications are not to be mixed and would bear ultimate responsibility. Was Broyles a heavy user of alcohol and known to be such. There would be some suggestion of that if the observations of her actions were true. If she was known to be a heavy alcohol user then the there may be more responsibility for the friend. Was it Valium? That has not clearly been established in the summary. This is a very unpredictable drug and it’s use has declined greatly since it’s early days when it was used for all types of anxiety, as well as controlling uncontrolled seizures (you could give it IV). It was used frequently in outpatient surgery for procedures like bronchoscopy, colonoscopy and others but this was ceased because the dosing was so variable per person and unpredictable when it would take effect. Some people would stay awake for long minutes while you were trying to sedate them and requiring more and more drug until they would suddenly lapse into unconsciousness and/or quit breathing. Not a desirable effect to have to resuscitate someone prior to even getting the procedure done. Versed was more predictable and safer and now propofal has superseded both. Valium is very depressive and unpredictable even without alcohol. Many other drugs in the same family are used far more commonly (none recommended with alcohol) and have varying strengths and duration of action. Unfortunately patients still pass around drugs that were not intended for other people despite warnings from physicians and pharmacists and just about everyone else.

  11. Taking a drug that wasn’t prescribed to you and mixing it with alcohol both demonstrate poor judgment. The candidate filing deadline for the Dem. primary in her district is April 15, 2022. Some other Democrat should run against her.

  12. Broyles is done.

    No point in litigation for anyone.

    She should slink away and try to rebuild her life elsewhere. Maybe follow Anthony Weiner on the radio – NY radio; lefties there are not too particular.

  13. I don’t understand why everyone instantly reports everything on Twitter. Broyles was at a friend’s house. When she started misbehaving, the friend should have intervened either by moving Broyles to another room or by directing the girls to go somewhere else in the house. If Broyles behavior was out of character – what a friend should know – the friend should tell this to the girls and explain that apparently something is wrong with Broyles. They could have sorted it out the next day and if, indeed, Broyles claim to mix of medication and alcohol is correct, she should have apologized to the girls and the friend, and the latter should have made clear to the girls that this was the end of it. If Broyles claim were untrue, I would end the friendship and no longer allow her to come to my house or be around my girls. Going to Twitter escalated things and now there may be no way back.
    Having that said, Broyles seem to carry some responsibility for accepting medication without knowing what it was while drinking alcohol. That’s pretty irresponsible. Voters should think whether they want someone with such lack of good judgment to be their representative.

  14. Strip out the speculation. What you have left is the coverup, being the “political” crime. Much like college athletes getting mixed up in bar fights, drunk driving, public relationship fights, usually fueled by booze, It is the sober decision making process that is the most telling, at a character level.

  15. If she knowingly/willingly took medication not prescribed for her then any reactions, and their consequences, shouldn’t be ‘mitigated’. No one forced the medication down her throat, forcing her to wash it down with more alcohol. Her responsibility should be no less than that of a drunk driver.

    1. One thing sorely missing in our culture today is an awareness of culpability for the small (bad) decisions which almost always precede the large (bad) decisions. Feld’s comment points to that reality and, rightly so, concludes Broyle’s responsibility for taking her chosen path is full and absolute. Let the defamation lawsuit begin.

  16. The woman is obviously a pathological liar. She seems unfazed by being caught (it’s probably happened so many times before), and her knee-jerk reaction is to double down. She is truly headed for greatness in the DNC.

        1. “WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee hereby formally censures Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and shall immediately cease any and all support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference. ”

          I don’t have to lie when the truth is so readily available. While the RNC later tried to clean up their statement, they claimed all the illegal behavior was not wrongdoing at all. If you disagree, name one person “persecuted” that didn’t commit at least one crime?

        2. RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said about Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger that “We’ve had two members engage in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” She said this in response to the House Jan. 6 Committee having called fake electors to testify about the submission of the fake electoral certificates. The submission of these fake certificates to the National Archives is indeed wrongdoing, and the fake electors who signed them are being investigated for breaking both federal and state laws.

  17. There is no excusing bad manners.

    Then to lie about it….thinking that is the right way to find salvation?

    She is not only lying to the public……sadly she is lying to herself.

    She deserves and earned condemnation for her vile acts and words….both during and after the night with the Children.

    There is medication that will stop her consuming alcohol….and a large bar of Soap used vigorously might clean up her vocabulary.

    Nothing will end her lying to the public and to herself.

  18. Interesting and quite a shame. Broyles and her friend made some poor choices that evening. It would have been better had Broyles been especially more careful around children.

Comments are closed.