Campfield defiant in deposition about posting false information

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 5:36pm

State Sen. Stacey Campfield has given a deposition in which he is unapologetic for posting false information about a Democratic candidate on his blog, dismissive of the possibility of paying damages for that and belittling of the technological skills of fellow lawmakers.

Campfield, a Knoxville Republican, is the defendant in a $750,000 libel lawsuit brought by Roger Byrge for falsely stating on his blog in the weeks before the 2008 general election that the Democrat had a criminal record. Byrge lost the state House race to Republican Chad Faulkner by fewer than 400 votes, 8,321 to 7,930.

Campfield, in a deposition attached to a court filing last week, said he would be unlikely to pay any damages, noting that he earns about $30,000 a year.

"Like I've got any money to give it even if you win," Campfield said in the deposition taken in April 2011.

"Go right ahead," he said. "I mean, I can show you my tax returns. If you think you're going to get money out of me, it's laughable."

Campfield's attorneys have filed motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that he had no reason to believe the information was inaccurate when the blog post was published.

A hearing on that motion is scheduled for April 24. If it doesn't succeed, the case is scheduled to go to trial in June. His attorney declined to comment beyond the filings in the case.

Campfield is a highly visible lawmaker who often draws attention and sometimes ridicule for sponsoring contentious bills on social issues, including one ridiculed as the "Don't Say Gay" bill and another that would cut welfare benefits to parents whose children aren't doing well in school.

Campfield's blog post from October 2008 said he had been told that a "mail piece has gone out exposing Byrge's multiple drug arrests." He went on to say that the candidate had been arrested for drug possession and dealing.

"I hear the mug shots are gold," Campfield wrote on the blog.

It was later determined that the arrest record belonged to Byrge's son, not the candidate.

Campfield maintained in the deposition that he was just repeating information he had received from House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin. Casada and the state Republican Party were also sued by Byrge but settled the case to undisclosed terms.

"I did not say those things," Campfield said in the deposition. "Glen Casada said those things."

Pressed by Byrge's attorney, David Dunaway, about whether he was sorry he had published the comments on his blog, Campfield said: "I'm sorry Glen Casada was mistaken in his report, yes."

Casada said in court filings that he did not intend for Campfield to post the information on the blog before it was confirmed. But Campfield said he didn't feel a responsibility to verify what he had been told by Casada.

"If you want to say Glen was reckless, I guess you could say that," Campfield said.

Campfield said he was contacted by Mark Goins, a former Republican state representative from Lafollete, to inform him that the candidate had been confused with somebody else.

Goins was named state election coordinator after Republicans gained a majority in the General Assembly in the 2008 election. A spokesman said Goins declined to comment on his role in advising Campfield because of the ongoing litigation.

Campfield said he was also advised not to publish a clarification or correction on his blog, just to take down the post.

Asked who had given him that advice, Campfield replied: "I believe it was Mark Goins, but I couldn't swear to that."

Campfield was asked in the deposition whether he has "a right to disparage or demean, or to call someone a criminal when that statement's not true."

Campfield answered: "I believe legally, probably, there is the right to do that because I've had it happen to me."

He was later challenged on whether there are limits to what he could publish.

"You can do anything," Campfield responded. "That's freedom of speech. The newspaper reports on things that I do all the time."

Campfield also shrugged off a question about whether his blog has a big impact among fellow lawmakers.

"I doubt that," he said. "Most of them don't even know how to turn on a computer."

Filed under: City News

16 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 4/8/13 at 4:20

This guy represents us!

By: Ask01 on 4/8/13 at 4:40

What a putz! Just how arrogant are conservatives?

I guess this will turn up in a comedians routine before long. What a great example for kids and real incentive for people to move to Tennessee. NOT!

I suppose if Campfield lost his assets could be seized and sold at public auction to satisfy whatever damages were awarded. I suppose, however, he could exercise his second amendment rights and stand his ground to protect his property.

That would be interesting.

I propose a new TV show, America's Dumbest, Most Arrogant, and Utterly Clueless Politicians. I fear, however, Tennessee politicians would dominate.

By: Loner on 4/9/13 at 5:38

If Stacey is too broke to pay the damages, then put him behind bars...this squirmy creep used bald-faced lies to do a major hatchet job on a Democratic candidate for political office...character assassination is a crime; Campfield should do time....or just take him out and shoot you would shoot a rabid dog....the man is sick.

By: Kosh III on 4/9/13 at 6:35

Please don't insult rabid dogs.

By: Rocket99 on 4/9/13 at 7:00

This is the guy who stated on satelite radio that AIDS started when a man and a monkey had sex. He's also the one who wants to take the food out of the mouths of starving kids just because they don't measure up to his standard. He's also the one who thinks it's perfectly ok for kids to bully other kids to the point of suicide. He doesn't appear to live in the real world. He needs to be removed from office. He is a disgrace to anyone who considers themselves even semi-inteligent.

By: CoyoteCrawford on 4/9/13 at 7:45

Who votes these nuts into office?

By: Rasputin72 on 4/9/13 at 3:42

Who votes for these people? People who do not share the sane values as the underclass and the welfare and free stuff class.

By: ancienthighway on 4/9/13 at 7:21

Ras, what do underclassmen have to do with it?

Poor, poor, Campbel, that persecuted Christian that is ridiculed for speaking the truth as he sees it. That's two 1st Amendment violations against him right there. He must have been bullied in school and since he survived it and is clearly a sane righteous person, bullying must be okay. He really did enjoy his time as an alter boy, especially when the Fathers took him on camping trips. Don't say gay. Anything else is okay, but not gay.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/10/13 at 6:03

Ancienthighway...........They vote!

By: whitegravy on 4/10/13 at 6:35

let me get this straight.......this campfield guy is a STATE SENATOR for wonder tenn is backward.....he sounds like a charming fellow

By: makesense on 4/10/13 at 7:46

I agree, whitegravy...this guy is what is wrong with politics. I would hope the people in East Knoxville will remove him next election. Then we will wait until we hear him being arrested in a public bathroom....

By: wataboutbob on 4/10/13 at 10:18

"I believe legally, probably, there is the right to do that because I've had it happen to me."


By: rawhide on 4/10/13 at 12:34

Legally speaking, if he had no reason to believe it wasn't true, it wasn't a "bald faced lie." Does he display arrogance in these excerpts? Absolutely. But since when is arrogance a big deal, right my liberal friends?

By: ancienthighway on 4/10/13 at 4:07

So due diligence isn't needed when you can use gut feeling instead. That's no way to run a campaign or a state. But then I guess the GOP stance is "he may be a loon, but he's our loon."

By: whitegravy on 4/11/13 at 1:17

Libel is liable to backfire on you......especially if your in public seems that it would behoove you to choose your words carefully whether on or off-line when speaking about another persons character.....i know mud-slinging is a part of AMERICAS political process....but get the FACTS before you sling

By: actor212 on 4/12/13 at 8:36

Well, uh, Rawhide, there's the small matter of the fact that the legislator has at least one child. That alone is pretty substantive evidence that the man is not gay.

But at least now I understand how Campfield gets elected....

BTW, does ol' "Stacy" have any kids? So maybe, by Rawhide's logic, he's really the boneman, right? I can say that, right? Cuz I have no evidence that it's not.