Wentworth Lawsuit May Proceed, Judge Rules

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, during debate on higher education bill SB5 on May 3, 2011.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, during debate on higher education bill SB5 on May 3, 2011.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s defamation lawsuit against his former primary challenger Elizabeth Ames Jones may proceed, a Bexar County judge ruled Thursday. 

Despite what many expected, Wentworth, R-San Antonio, will not face Jones in July's runoff election; Jones came in third on May 29 after Donna Campbell, an emergency room doctor who was far outspent in the SD-25 primary.

Before the primary, Wentworth filed suit against Jones, alleging that she had committed libel and slander by running campaign ads that said he had double-billed his campaign and the state for expenses related to air and car travel.

Jones filed a motion to have the suit dismissed, but District Judge Martha Tanner rejected it after a Wednesday hearing. 

Wentworth was not immediately available for comment.

Jones’ attorney, Peter Kilpatrick, issued a statement expressing disappointment with the decision. “Ms. Jones stands by her assertion that every word in the radio ad that is the subject of the alleged libel suit was true,” he said. “Every sentence. Every clause."

Kilpatrick said Jones, who has called the suit "frivolous and politically inspired," is confident she will prevail before a jury should the case get that far. But she asked Kilpatrick to explore appealing Thursday's ruling in order to avoid an expensive and time-consuming process, he said.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.