NASHVILLE — Attorneys for a former Tennessee Republican Party chief of staff have included the party as a defendant in a lawsuit.
Mark Winslow earlier filed suit against U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and consultant Chip Saltsman, claiming he was defamed in a television political ad that aired before the 2010 primary election. The ad claimed then-candidate Robin Smith paid “lavish bonuses” to staff when she was head of the state party.
Smith lost to Fleischmann by 1,415 votes.
According to The Tennessean, Winslow contends the party agreed that a severance payment was confidential.
Michael Sullivan, the Tennessee Republican Party’s deputy executive director, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The court filing Thursday updates a lawsuit Winslow filed nearly two years ago.
Saltsman was a consultant to Fleischmann’s 2010 political campaign and went to work for him after Fleischmann won the general election, becoming the chief of staff in Fleishmann’s Washington office.
The lawsuit describes two payments that the ad may have called bonuses. One was Winslow’s portion of a $20,000 bonus that Smith received and shared with staffers after Republican gains in the 2008 elections. The other was a $12,504 severance he received when he left after Smith stepped down in 2009 to seek the congressional seat.
Winslow said he and current party chairman Chris Devaney agreed to the severance and its amount was supposed to be kept confidential.
Testifying last summer, Saltsman said documents describing the payments were left anonymously on the steps of the garage at his home.
In his filing, Winslow calls the ad depictions of the payments to him libelous and said it has cost him political consulting work.
He asks the Davidson County Circuit Court to award him a combined $500,000 from the Tennessee Republican Party, Saltsman and Fleischmann in compensatory damages. He also seeks $250,000 each from Saltsman and Fleischmann in punitive damages.