State GOP Added as Defendant in Lawsuit Against Fleischmann

The Tennessee Republican party has been added as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by a former state GOP chief of staff of the Tennessee Republican Party, reports Chas Sisk. The state GOP is accused of leaking confidential information about his pay in an attempt to undermine former chairwoman Robin Smith’s 2010 run for Congress.
Attorneys for Mark Winslow are adding the state party to a lawsuit that alleges U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, and adviser Chip Saltsman defamed Winslow in a television ad that aired shortly before the 2010 Republican primary. The spot said that Smith had paid out “lavish bonuses” to staff, including Winslow, while head of the state party.
Fleischmann beat Smith by 1,415 votes to earn an upset win for the Republican nomination. He went on to win the general election that year, and he was elected to a second term in November.
Michael Sullivan, the Tennessee Republican Party’s deputy executive director, declined to comment on the suit.
The filing made Thursday updates a complaint that Winslow filed nearly two years ago against Saltsman, a message consultant to Fleischmann’s 2010 congressional campaign who went on to work for him in Washington as his chief of staff.
The suit describes two payments that the ad may have referred to as bonuses: Winslow’s portion of a $20,000 bonus that Smith shared with staffers as a reward for Republicans’ gains in the 2008 election and a $12,504 severance payment made to Winslow shortly after Smith stepped down in 2009 to run for Congress.
Winslow says he and Chris Devaney, the current chairman of the party, agreed to the severance payment and that it was supposed to be kept confidential. The complaint contends party officials should have kept the agreement locked up, but instead it made its way into the hands of Saltsman and several reporters.

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