by Steven Hale
Yesterday, we passed along a scoop from Nashville Post's Ken Whitehouse, who reported that GOP congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik is facing a criminal contempt charge and possible incarceration for failing to appear for a deposition in the lawsuit between state Sen. Mae Beavers and Macon County Chronicle publisher Kathryn Belle. Zelenik is up against U.S. Rep. Diane Black in the 6th District GOP congressional primary Aug. 2.
This morning, the Zelenik camp issued a press release, responding to "sensationalized" and "distorted" reports from the "liberal media" (we think that's us), and claiming that "all parties" had actually agreed to move Zelenik's deposition to Aug. 8 and that a judge indicated he would not sanction Zelenik for her absence. The statement went on to allege that the whole thing is a desperate last-ditch effort on the part of the Black campaign to get rid of a familiar thorn in her side. The full text of that release also appears in yesterday's post, but here's an excerpt:
“Here she goes again,” said Zelenik Campaign Manager Jay Heine. “Two years ago, Diane Black found herself behind in the election against Lou Ann Zelenik and she ran to the courthouse in an effort to mislead the voters and confuse the issues of the campaign. Earlier this year, Circuit Court Judge Joe P. Binkley threw out the lawsuit filed by Diane Black's husband’s company as having no merit whatsoever. Judge Binkley stated that Zelenik’s ads were true."
Now Black is seeing her treasured congressional seat slip away. In desperation, she’s running back to the same playbook and deploying her friends in the liberal media to do her dirty work. It is ironic that the Diane Black’s campaign spokesman Jennifer Coxe-Baker is the very person circulating this information.
“It is regrettable that Congresswoman Black has no record of success to stand on or that the ruling earlier this year didn’t teach her to wage her campaigns at the ballot box instead of the courtroom. Tennesseans now have a full understanding of the game she’s playing and she won’t deter us from electing a responsible true conservative in the Sixth District,” Heine concluded.
Now Round Three, after the jump.
This afternoon, Keith Williams, an attorney representing Kathryn Belle in the Beavers v. Belle case, issued this statement, offering his version of the events and calling Zelenik's claims of political motivations "ridiculous."
The statement, in full:
The Petition for Criminal Contempt against Lou Ann Zelenik was filed on behalf of my client on July 18th and, after his review of the Petition and based on the merits it contained, Chancellor Smith issued Ms. Zelenik an Order to Appear and Show Cause as to why she should not be punished for Criminal Contempt. Ms. Zelenik did not appear for the July 12th depositions, which she was compelled to do under a valid court ordered subpoena. The depositions of Jerry and Mae Beavers and my client were scheduled for August 8th and I had made it clear to all attorneys involved that Ms. Zelenik’s deposition must be received prior to the taking of the depositions the Beavers and Ms. Belle. Chancellor Smith was very specific that Ms. Zelenik must provide a deposition before August 8th. By refusing any possible deposition dates prior to the August 8th deadline, Ms. Zelenik blatantly violated the court’s order and we were forced to file our petition.
Any allegations that this is a politically motivated lawsuit are ridiculous. I do not know Congresswoman Diane Black, nor does she have any connection to this suit. My only reason for this filing is that I simply could not allow Ms. Zelenik and her attorney’s flagrant disregard for the law to further put off my client’s day in court.