The Edmond Sun

Local News

June 22, 2012

Blair sues Jolley over PAC ads

EDMOND — A lawsuit added a new twist Friday in the Oklahoma Senate District 41 campaign between contender Paul Blair and incumbent state Sen. Clark Jolley, according to the Oklahoma County Court Clerk’s office.

Republican voters will choose Jolley or Blair Tuesday at the statewide primary election ballot to move forward to the Nov. 6 general election ballot against Independent Richard Prawdzienski.

Blair filed a lawsuit Thursday in Oklahoma City District Court against Jolley, the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future Inc., and members of the political action committee.

“I will not comment about the lawsuit.” Jolley told The Edmond Sun. “But I’m clearly disappointed that he is choosing to go this route. As much as he has distorted and disparaged my record throughout the campaign, filing a lawsuit never entered my mind as an option. This is a very regrettable decision he has made for Edmond.”

The lawsuit states the defendants, “persisted in the publication of radio/television advertisements (hereinafter ads), designed with malice and presented with reckless disregard for the truth so that a reasonable person would not understand the truth of the matter after being exposed to the ad.”

“Mr. Blair knows some of the campaign material printed and broadcast was false and improperly used to the point that an ordinary person could not tell what the truth was by the material presented,” said attorney Don Powers, representing Blair.

Powers said the defendants were aware that the information was false and continued to use it. He said Blair believes that a lie unchallenged becomes the truth.

Jolley’s attorney, Andy Lester, of Edmond’s Lester, Loving & Davies, disagrees. Lester said the lawsuit papers allege nothing against Jolley although his name is included in the lawsuit.

“People running for political office who file defamation lawsuits are generally desperate politicians in desperate need of a boost,” Lester said. “I’ve been around government and politics for 30 years at every level — local, state and national. One-hundred percent of the time I’ve seen one of these lawsuits that’s been the situation. I believe that’s the situation here.”

Earlier this week, Blair said his 89-year-old mother had complained she is sick of commercials being run on television, accusing her son of business impropriety.

In a Friday morning press release, Blair went on to state that Jolley could have issued a press release, calling to end the ads and that Jolley disputes the validity of the ads.

“As a businessman and pastor, I treasure my reputation in this community,” Blair continued. “I am gratified that my reputation is such that they had to make up lies about me to have anything to say.”

In a story published this week, Jolley told The Edmond Sun it was neither he nor his campaign that suggested any scandal whatsoever involving Blair and his former contract with Edmond Public Schools. He said that he told Blair after the recent Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce forum that he did not believe in a scandal nor promote a scandal against Blair.

“We did not do a push poll on him,” Jolley said. “I don’t believe there is any scandal. I don’t know what the scandal could be. We didn’t say there is one,” Jolley said.

Blair stated his campaign has worked to resolve the matter with Jolley and the coalition’s attorney, but the coalition was not interested in the truth of the matter. Blair’s campaign stated that Oklahoma Tax Commission spokeswoman Paula Ross has cleared Blair of breaking the law or having owed taxes on any of his business ventures.

Blair stated that he asked Jolley on two different occasions to stop the political commercials against his campaign and to call for the commercials to stop.

“He admitted to me that he did not believe that they were true, but insisted that he could not do anything to stop them,” Blair complained.

An independent expenditures report made to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission shows a $4,400 expense by the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future was for polling support for Senate District 41. A sample survey in the amount of $2,800 for Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates was issued to benefit Jolley’s campaign, the report states. Another C-5R report by the Ethics Commission shows a $90,000 payment to Mentzer Media Services Inc. from the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future was made for the purpose of opposing the opposition.

According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, monetary contributions made specifically to the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future lists four donors between April 1 and June 11. This report include a $50,000 contribution to the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future by the Williams Co., based in Tulsa; a $50,000 contribution by the Tulsa-based company, Flintco LLC; a $25,000 contribution by Rooney Holdings Inc., also of Tulsa; and $25,000 from Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett, chairman of the Dorchester Capital Corp., according to the campaign finance report filed with the Ethics Commission.

A report documenting monetary contributions to the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future from Jan. 1 to March 31, shows an additional $25,000 contribution by Rooney Holdings, according to report filed with the Ethics Commission. In addition funding contributions from persons other than committees include Chesapeake Inc., Oklahoma City, for $50,000; the Chickasaw Nation, Ada, for $50,000; and a $25,000 contribution by Continental Resources Inc., according to the report.

Blair commented that he understands why good people don’t run for public office.

“It is a shame when a man who has invested 49 years in his hometown, 25 years as a small businessman and 11 years as a minister, all the while establishing an impeccable reputation in the community, and now trying to serve his community through accepting the public trust, is viciously and unjustly attacked,” Blair stated. “If a PAC can do this to me, then there is no limit to what a PAC can do to any candidate.”

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