Wentworth files defamation suit against Jones

Marilyn Tennissen May 22, 2012, 9:32am


The political squabble between state Sen. Jeff Wentworth and challenger Elizabeth Ames Jones is now spilling into the courtroom.

On May 17, Wentworth, the incumbent Republican for state Senate District 25, filed a lawsuit against Jones, a former railroad commissioner and fellow Republican, accusing her of libel and slander.

Wentworth said one of Jones' campaign ads implies he broke the law by double billing the state and his campaign fund for the same expenses.

The radio ad says "Records indicate Wentworth has billed both the state of Texas and his campaign fund for the same travel expenses -- including gasoline to fuel his Lexus, which he leases with campaign money."

Wentworth said he filed the defamation suit "to defend my honor and the integrity of our democracy."

"To be falsely accused of committing a crime is over the line of political discourse and has forced me into filing this defamation suit against Jones," he said in a statement.
Wentworth has said he will donate any monetary damages awarded from the suit to charity.

After the suit was filed, Jones said at a press conference that there are "more than 200 instances" of Wentworth billing both the state and his campaign for fuel and other expenses for air travel. Her campaign said Wentworth's suit is frivolous and politically motivated.

She filed a response to the suit on May 18, standing by the truth of her ads. The response asks that Wentworth be required to pay her legal fees incurred responding to the suit.

One of Wentworth's ads depicted Jones as a puppet of lobbyists.

Wentworth also sued his 2002 primary opponent, then-State Rep. John Shields, because of an allegedly misleading and defamatory television ad.

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