Law and Disorder in HD 46
Thompson fails to get Dukes ads pulled, Dukes family makes own defamation complaint.
By Richard Whittaker,
3:41PM, Fri. Feb. 29, 2008
Some elections are settled in the courts, but it looks like the race for House District 46 is being fought there. Challenger Brian Thompson lost this morning in his attempt to have campaign ads by Rep. Dawnna Dukes withdrawn because they defamed his voting record in the district. State District Judge Scott Jenkins called it “core political speech” and thus protected. Thompson said he was "disappointed" with the result. Dukes, however, said this "was nothing but a desperate attempt at the last minute to distract the voters with frivolous litigation."
But now the Dukes family has fired back with their own defamation complaint, saying they were defamed by two of his ads. Dukes' pleading cites the following language: "As a member of CAMPO Rep. Dawnna Dukes Voted To Toll Austin Freeways … a scheme created by Gov. Rick Perry The day after Dukes toll road vote, Dawnna Dukes sister, Stacy Rhone Dukes, received a NO BID contract from the toll authority. FIRE THE CORRUPT Rep. Dawnna Dukes". The complaint continues that the "gist of the Ads is that the entire Dukes Family is corrupt." Dukes family attorney Brian Turner said he did not think Jenkins' decision this morning had any bearing on whether Thompson's ad would be considered protected speech. He also said there had been no discussion of leaving the case until after the primaries.
But there's a bigger problem than what Jenkins said. It's not a Thompson campaign ad. Very clearly, at the end of the ad, it says "Learn more at AustinTollParty.com."
See below the fold for the ad.