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VOL. 37 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 08, 2013

State GOP and former top aide settle lawsuit

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NASHVILLE (AP) - The Tennessee Republican Party and former chief of staff Mark Winslow have settled a lawsuit over the public disclosure of his severance pay after he left the state GOP.

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga and political operative Chip Saltsman remain defendants in the case headed for trial on Feb. 24.

"I am pleased we have reached an amicable resolution of this unfortunate matter and look forward to Mark's continuing good work for the party and our principles," State Party Chairman Chris Devaney in a release Thursday.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Devaney chose not to retain Winslow after he was elected to replace former Chairwoman Robin Smith, who left the position in 2009 to run for Congress.

Winslow went to work as a top aide to Smith's campaign, and later details of the confidential severance agreement became the subject of media reports and ads by Fleischmann's campaign . Fleischmann ended up winning the nomination and the general election.

"Their target was Robin Smith, but they used Mark Winslow, who had worked for the party, and is still on the state executive committee," said Winslow's attorney, Gary Blackburn. "And they described his behavior as at least unethical and probably illegal."

Winslow sued Fleishman, Saltsman and the state GOP in Davidson County Circuit Court, seeking a combined $750,000 in damages on the basis that his reputation had been unfairly damaged by the disclosures.

Saltsman, in testimony last year, said documents describing the payments were left anonymously on the steps of the garage at his home.