Ex-candidate sues over GOP club editorial

May 28, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Laura R. Rose, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates, has sued a Berkeley County Republican Club official, claiming an editorial he wrote about her in a club newsletter was libelous and caused her to lose the election, according to court records.

The suit, filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court, arose from an editorial Thomas Slater wrote about several debates between Rose and her Republican challenger, John Overington.

Slater said in the November 1996 edition of the Berkeley County Republican Club Newsletter that the debates were poorly run and organized and were a "mud bath."


"Rose's demeanor in the events showed she knows that she is fighting a desperate and losing battle. As she decended deeper into mud-slinging, her voice rose to levels that can only be described as shrill," Slater said in the editorial, which was included in the court filing.

"Through the several `events' of this election year, Rose said nothing to change the public's low regard for lawyers and the perception that too many of them are ethically challenged," Slater wrote in the editorial.

Rose, who lost to Overington in the general election last November, is a Martinsburg attorney.

Overington, on the other hand, "positioned himself as a calm, experienced, level-headed lawmaker," Slater wrote in the editorial.

Rose's suit demands that a "prompt, prominent, and objective apology" be published in the Berkeley County Republican Club Newsletter and be distributed to the same mailing list as the November 1996 edition of the newsletter.

If Slater refuses to issue an apology, Rose wants compensatory damages which are consistent with the evidence in the case, plus other relief, the suit states.

Rose claims in her suit that the editorial caused her to lose the election and suffer a financial loss in excess of $22,000 through campaign expenditures, and to lose an income in excess of $10,000 for the delegate seat she would have won.

Slater said Tuesday evening he has no reason to issue an apology. "I stand by the truth of that," Slater said, referring to the editorial.

Before she filed the suit, Rose had written Slater a letter asking for an apology, saying the editorial was defamatory, libelous and injurious to her reputation, according to court records.

But in a response letter, Slater said he considered Rose's assertions to be "frivolous, without merit and a crude attempt to intimidate me from exercising my First Amendment right to free speech," according to court records.

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