Lawsuit Shakes Up 134th House Race
Emmaus political activists accuse Democrat Patrick Slattery and others of defamation of character
Two Emmaus political activists are suing Democratic House candidate Patrick Slattery and 13 others for defamation of character as a result of activities in the fall 2011 general election season.
The lawsuit of former Emmaus Borough councilman Otto Slozer and former borough council candidate John Donches was filed in Lehigh County Court on Monday.
The suit comes one week before a special election to determine who will serve the remaining term of Rep. Doug Reichley, who resigned his seat representing the 134th House District to become a county judge. Slattery and GOP candidate Ryan Mackenzie are running in the special election to be held Tuesday, April 24.
In addition to Slattery, the lawsuit names Citizens for Strong Communities Treasurer Holly Zakos. The suit criticizes Slattery and Zakos for their role in establishing the website www.ottosback.com and for campaign-style yard signs with the slogan “Stop Otto” that promoted the website.
Slozer and Donches say the website contained defamatory information about them. The citizens group alleged that Slozer was manipulating municipal candidates including Donches, who lost his bid to be elected to borough council last November.
The lawsuit also names:
- Emmaus Borough Councilman Brian Holtzhafer and his wife Jenae Holtzhafer (a columnist and freelance contributor for Patch). Brian Holtzhafer was re-elected to council last November.
- Councilman Mike Waddell and his wife, Linda Waddell
- Councilman Wesley Barrett
- Emmaus Youth Association Chairman John Eyer
- An Emmaus Patch user who comments under the name "Caribbean Queen"
The lawsuit says that each of them posted “Stop Otto” campaign signs on their property. Slozer told Patch last fall that he was considering filing a lawsuit because of the website and signs.
In addition, Jenae Holtzhafer is singled out for her involvement in a private Facebook group - “Friends of Brian Holtzhafer” - created in support of her husband’s re-election campaign. The lawsuit notes Facebook posts by both Slattery and Jenae Holtzhafer as exhibits.