Judge: Zelenik may continue to run ad targeting Black, family business

Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:10pm

A controversial campaign ad will be allowed to continue running after a Thursday afternoon ruling in Nashville.

Aegis Sciences filed a lawsuit against Lou Ann Zelenik, a Republican candidate for Congress in the 6th District, claiming one of her campaign ads defames the company. Aegis, which is partially owned by David Black — husband of state Sen. Diane Black, also seeking the GOP nomination in the 6th, provides drug-testing services and has a state contract.

The company claims the ad harms Aegis’ corporate reputation with its insinuation that Black’s votes for the state budget and other appropriations items direct funds to her husband’s company and sought to have a restraining order placed on the commercial until a final decision was reached in the case.

“This is beyond the bounds of political speech,” attorney Joel Galanter said. “This is commercial speech.”

Zelenik’s attorneys, however, disputed that there was any damage done to Aegis, especially since an ad run by Black’s 2008 Democratic opponent, Jim Hawkins, made similar allegations.

“It is disingenuous to claim harm now and not then," defense attorney Brian Manookian argued. "Their argument is they don't like how it sounds. The only place where how it sounds counts is American Idol."

Judge Hamilton Gayden said with election day "just 175 hours" away, he was cool to the idea of limiting campaign speech.

"The right to the freedom of speech is one of our most protected rights and the limits are very narrow. It's impractical and impossible to make definite findings of fact [in a short time frame]," he said.

Gayden emphasized that his ruling on the restraining order was not the end of the matter and that Aegis was free to pursue the lawsuit to its conclusion, which Galanter said the company would do, though the attorney indicated an appeal of today's ruling would not be sought.

6 Comments on this post:

By: bruingeek on 7/30/10 at 6:32

It would seem that this is something that is easily verifiable. Did Diane Black vote for a budget OR appropriations that resulted in the million dollar benefit to Aegis?

By: bruingeek on 7/30/10 at 6:38

For the record, I am not crazy about either Black or Zelenik as choices...and if my initial question is inappropriate, I might suggest, 'it went on the wrong email and I inadvertently hit the wrong button. I’m very sick about it, and it’s one of those things I can’t change or take back'

By: airvols on 7/30/10 at 8:30

Jim Tracy is the only options in this race, he more qualified than both these candidates and has more of a business background than they offer. This is begining to sound like a cat fight, and that's exacly why you should vote for Jim Tracy.

By: pswindle on 7/30/10 at 1:50

We should dump both of the women. If this is their behavior, TN can't affort another
right-wing nut in Congress. I don't remember Bart Gordon ever behaving in such a destructive way. Let's not insult the people of TN in electing either one of these ladies, and I use the word lady loosely. And here comes Flinn the Christian Conservative, help us all if this nut is elected. I still have hope for TN, but it gets dimmer and dimmer.

By: AmyLiorate on 7/31/10 at 8:07


Jim Tracy and Diane Black's votes will just cancel each other out.

Zelenick would have been OK, but all this mud slinging leaves me voting for Kerry. He has run a good campaign.

Send an accountant to Washington!

By: Loretta Bridge on 8/2/10 at 4:56

They all need to spend more money and TIME talking about what they will do for us
and not about what their opponents. I AM SICK OF ALL OF THEM.