Williams Speaks On Merritt Lawsuit - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/27/06-Longview

Williams Speaks On Merritt Lawsuit

A challenger in an upcoming East Texas representatives race "stands his ground", and continues to hammer home an ad campaign that has drawn a lawsuit from his opponent.

When State Representative Tommy Merritt announced his lawsuit for defamation on the courthouse steps Friday, his opponent Mark Williams had an immediate first reaction.  "It's a desperate and blatantly political, bizarre action, I'm very disappointed," says Williams.

Merritt filed the suit based on Williams' attacking political ads scrutinizing his legislative record saying he accomplished little.  "Gross distortions.  The lies say I have only passed eight bills. This is not true. I have passed close to 200 pieces of legislation," said Merritt.

But Williams is sticking to his guns, saying that information can be found verified.  "If there's any doubt about anything we've said, we cite sources. Go to the house journal or the legislative record," Williams says.

Merritt fires back citing that a large part of Williams campaign funds come from a San Antonio doctor who wants Merritt out.  "Isn't the job to represent their districts, not to sell their votes to a millionaire from San Antonio," said Merritt.

The bitter back and forth has even taken a toll on the candidate families.  "I couldn't believe anyone could say anything like that about Mark," said William's wife Carolyn.  "These vicious lies about Tommy's voting record are a disgrace to democracy and a vile attack on our family," said Merritt's wife Janet.

Williams remains defiant, and says he won't change what he's doing.  "We will continue to do two things we're going to continue to talk about my qualifications and talk about Tommy Merritt's performance over the last decade," he says.

The primary vote is March 7th. No word from the Merritt camp on what damages they are seeking in the lawsuit.

Bob Hallmark reporting, bhallmark@kltv.com

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