NASHVILLE (CN) – Lou Ann Zelenik, a Tennessee business woman and Tea Party organizer vying for a state Republican nod in upcoming primaries, has been hit with a lawsuit claiming she crossed the line in recent campaign commercials.
Her radio and television ads falsely claim that Tennessee Sen. Diane Black gave her husband’s drug-testing company, Aegis Science Corporation, $1 million in state funds, Aegis says in Chancery Court of Davis County, Tenn.
In its lawsuit, Aegis claims that its reputation and good-will has been irreparably harmed by Zelenik’s’ accusations of “self-dealing, wrongdoing, and illegal, unethical, immoral and corrupt conduct.”
The ads claim “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, except hers.”
According to the lawsuit, “While these false 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 payable to Aegis in the amount of one million dollars.”
Black then hands the check over to a man with a distorted face who is identified as her husband, the founder and president of Aegis, the lawsuit says.
Aegis says Zelenik knows the statements are false.
“The truth is that an extremely small portion of Aegis’ business is comprised of contracts with state departments.” The contracts Aegis had won, it claims, were competitively bid and awarded and were supervised by the Tennessee governor’s office, not the state legislature.
Lou Ann Zelenik is from Rutherford County and was an organizer for the first and second Rutherford County Tea Parties.
Aegis says it asked Zelenik to stop airing the defamatory commercials in a letter she received on July 26, 2010, but the publications persist.
An immediate injunction is the only sufficient response, according to Aegis, which claims “an award of damages in this case is an inadequate remedy because the potential loss of revenue and profits to Aegis and the damage to its reputation are continuing and escalating.”
It charges Zelenik and her non-profit Lou Ann For Congress with defamation and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
Aegis is represented by Joel Galanter with Adams and Reese in Nashville.