NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The company owned by the husband of 6th District Congressional candidate Diane Black is suing Republican opponent Lou Ann Zelenik in an attempt to stop a campaign advertisement.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday morning in Davidson County Circuit Court, Aegis Sciences Corporation, a drug testing company owned by Dr. David Black, claims that ads run by the Zelenik campaign will damage the business and its reputation and asks for a temporary restraining order to keep the ads from airing.
The ads allege Diane Black helped her husband's company obtain a $1 million state contract.
Specifically, the ads state that “[Diane] Black's spending spree included a million bucks for a drug testing company; the company's owner, Diane Black's husband. Diane Black, big spending that hurt every Tennessee family, expert hers.”
While the statements are being spoken, the video displays the words, “Diane Black Spending Spree” and depicts Senator Black holding an oversized check written on the account of Tennessee Taxpayers and payable to Aegis in the amount of $1 million. The check is signed by Diane Black.
The video then depicts Senator Black handing the check to a man whose face is distorted but is identified as her husband, the lawsuit states.
In a hearing about the lawsuit Thursday afternoon, attorneys for both sides made their case.
“The harm that's being caused by these false and malicious advertising extends not only to Aegis but to its hundreds of employees, [Aegis] employees 300 people, but also to its clients,” said Aegis attorney Joel Galanter.
“Their argument, essentially, is they don't like the way the ad sounds, not that it's untrue,” said Zelenik's attorney Brian Manookian. “They only place where how it sounds prevails is American Idol. In court today you need to have evidence that's the standard here.”
In the end, a judge denied to grant the temporary restraining order requested, citing the tight primary race as the reason why.
Following the ruling, Aegis' attorney said he plans to continue with the defamation lawsuit against Zelenik and her campaign.
In a statement issued late Thursday, Jay Heine, Zelenik's campaign manager, said, in part, “It is now apparent that Senator Black has crossed some line between desperation and silliness. To attempt to use the court system in a federal election to prevent the disclosure of something that is a documented part of the public record is almost beyond explanation. I can assure you this attempted intimidation will not work.”
The statement continued, “The court saw this for what it was, and the voters now know we have been telling the truth all along. Diane Black should be ashamed of herself, and her campaign is now exposed for the smoke and mirrors it has always been.”