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The Brief: May 18, 2012

A lawsuit has upped the drama in what was already one of the state's most heated state legislative races.

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The Big Conversation:

A lawsuit has upped the drama in what was already one of the state's most heated state legislative races.

Incumbent state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, sued Republican challenger Elizabeth Ames Jones on Thursday for libel and slander.

The suit, as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports, is the latest salvo in the Senate District 25 race, in which both candidates have aired blistering attack ads against each other. Wentworth has also previously filed ethics complaints against Jones and her husband, while Jones has accused Wentworth of "ethical lapses."

Wentworth's suit centers on a new ad from the Jones campaign that claims Wentworth billed the state and his campaign for the same travel expenses.

Wentworth denies any such double-billing. "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. "I filed this lawsuit to defend my honor and the integrity of our democracy."

Wentworth's lawsuit provided an explanation for the expenses: "The procedure followed is that the expenses are advanced in the form of a loan from [Wentworth's] official campaign account. Upon receipt of the reimbursement from the state of Texas pursuant to the sworn expense report, the funds are then repaid to the campaign account."

Hours later, Jones announced that she would file a counterclaim to the suit. "Truth is an absolute defense, and my television ads are true," she said in a statement.

Donna Campbell, an emergency room doctor, is also vying for the Republican nomination in the race.

Culled:

  • The Dallas Morning News reports that Ron Paul will headline the state Republican convention in Fort Worth on June 7. "His breakout session will undoubtedly be one of the most highly attended special events during the three-day convention," state GOP chairman Steve Munisteri said of a session Paul will lead called "Uniting Republicans and Balancing the Federal Budget." "And I know many of our delegates will be interested in hearing about his principled approach to shrinking the size of our federal government from such a major national figure in our Party." Rick Santorum will also speak at the convention, but his address has been closed to the public.
  • Amid heated debate over the war in Afghanistan at a meeting of the House Rules Committee on Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, accused a Democratic colleague, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, of drinking on the job, according to Politico. “I think this is also behavior, that I wonder if people have been out drinking tonight, or whether they are mad or angry or incapable of controlling themselves," Sessions said of McGovern, who responded: “I take offense to that. … There are some issues worth fighting over, and for me, ending this war is one of them. And I’m sorry the gentleman doesn’t think that, take that very seriously.”
  • As the Austin American-Statesman reports, Attorney General Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to disclose details about its stock of lethal injection drugs. The department had argued that the release of such details would compromise employees and let death-penalty opponents interrupt the flow of the drugs to the agency.

Must-Read:

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