Hulk Hogan may have thought that his public image could not sink any lower after he was fired by WWE two months ago when The National Enquirer published quotes of a racist tirade he made during one of his sex tapes, recorded without his knowledge, with the ex-wife of Bubba The Love Sponge (aka Todd Alan Clem), Heather Cole.
But more bad publicity may yet be to come, as a group of media outlets, including the Associated Press, are lobbying the Florida judge in charge of Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media (over publishing video excerpts of one of those sex tapes) to make sealed records in the case public, according to Tamara Lush of the AP.
The sealed records would be those from the FBI investigation into an attempt to extort money from Hogan by Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles based lawyer believed to be working on behalf of someone who stole the sex tapes from Clem, in exchange for keeping the dirty videos suppressed. Gawker's attorneys only received this evidence after a lengthy freedom of information battle with the FBI, but the judge immediately ordered the records to be sealed when they won that case.
The sealed records would include three DVDs of Hogan having sex with Cole, i.e., the sex tapes in question. It's unlikely that there are many more salacious details to be mined from these videos (what could be worse than overt racism and homophobia?), but the media would milk the content for all it's worth and it would lead to another round of embarrassing stories for Hogan, if the judge decides in favour of these news companies. At the very least, publication of the sealed records would likely clear up the timeline of the sex recordings, which may expose that Hogan hasn't been fully honest when he claims his racist rant occurred when he was feeling suicidal over the breakdown of his marriage and his son being jailed for reckless driving.
It should be noted that it is unlikely that any of these media outlets would publish the sex tapes if they won the case, but there would be nothing stopping more unscrupulous sites from doing so at that point as they would be public record.
Charles Tobin, a lawyer for Holland and Knight who is representing the media companies in this case, explained why they had decided to lobby the courts to release the sealed evidence:
"It’s highly unusual for this much secrecy to surround a civil proceeding. Ordinarily, whether it’s a celebrity or an average citizen, once you ask the court to help solve a dispute you open the proceedings up to public review. What’s going on in Hulk Hogan’s case certainly is not the norm when it comes to public transparency of the courts."
David Bixenspan for SEScoops.com has read a copy of the filing and published the following further details that he had dug up in the process:
"Joining the Associated Press in filing the intervening motion are First Look Media (The Intercept and Reported.ly), WFTS TV (a Tampa, FL TV station), WPTV TV (a West Palm Beach, FL TV station), Scripps Media (owns many local newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations), Journal Broadcast Group (a multimedia company that recently merged with Scripps), and the Tampa Bay Times.
The argument is, essentially, that the files were ruled public information in Gawker's lawsuit against the FBI, and Florida's own state laws err on the side of court records being incredibly open. But...
...even if there was a time where the sealing was warranted, the argument is that Hogan demanding an investigation into a potential leak means the records must go public because he put them at issue."
It would be expected that a ruling on this motion would come before the case goes to trial currently scheduled for March 2016 in Pinellas County Court in St. Petersburg.
The motion is obviously a blow to Hogan's attempt to get rehired by WWE. No way would they want him under contract while this dark cloud is hanging over his head.