Alameel Threatens Cornyn Campaign With Lawsuit

Democrat David Alameel (left), is challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 2002.
Democrat David Alameel (left), is challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 2002.

David Alameel, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is demanding that Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s campaign retract a recent fundraising email or possibly face a defamation lawsuit.

A lawyer for Cornyn’s campaign accused Alameel of trying to “intimidate Texans from discussing his fitness for public office.”

The dispute stems from a May 14 fundraising email sent by Texans for Senator John Cornyn to members of its mailing list. The email, from campaign outreach director Amanda Shell, cited an article in the Houston Chronicle outlining a now-closed legal fight between dental clinics that were then owned by Alameel and four workers who claimed the company’s chief financial officer had sexually harassed them. Alameel was never a target of the sexual harassment claims. However, his company settled a subsequent federal complaint — which involved no admission of wrongdoing — brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2008. The Cornyn campaign email summarized the allegations from the suit as well as other details included in the article.

The Cornyn campaign on Thursday released a letter from Alameel's lawyer and the campaign's response, despite a statement in the letter from Alameel’s lawyer describing it as “a confidential legal communication” that is not for publication.

In a letter dated Saturday, Martin Singer, Alameel’s lawyer, accused Shell and Cornyn’s campaign of “deliberately distorting the truth” by not mentioning in the email that "a jury found the claims alleged in the women’s lawsuit to be wholly without merit and that a judgment was rendered in favor of all the defendants, including my client.”

 

Leaving out those details, Singer argued, renders the statements in the email “untrue and defamatory, thereby exposing you, Texans for Senator John Cornyn and all those involved in the publication of the Statements to liability for my client’s substantial damages.”

Singer goes on to demand that the Cornyn campaign issue a “retraction and correction” of its original email and refrain from publishing similar statements in the future.

“Absent resolution of this matter to my client’s satisfaction, you will be exposed to substantial liability,” Singer writes.

Alameel learned about the Cornyn campaign's email from a Texas Tribune reporter seeking a comment on it from the Alameel campaign, according to the letter.

On Thursday, Sean Cairncross, a lawyer for Cornyn’s campaign, responded in a letter dismissing Alameel’s concerns.

“You do not dispute these statements; in fact, your letter appears to concede that they are literally or substantially true,” Cairncross wrote. “Instead, you claim that an opinion concerning those facts constitutes defamation.”

Alameel’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Alameel secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, in a runoff.