ECP publisher issues statement over Brown campaign story
"Truth is defense for libel," said Charles D. Hatfield Jr., publisher of the independent weekly since 1992. "This newspaper has never been, and is not intimidated by, the jack-booted thug mentality coming from the Johnny Brown camp.
"The Johnny Brown campaign is taking issue with the story The Ellis County Press published on April 3 regarding ads being canceled when in fact Johnny Brown told [ad salesman] Mike Nielsen at a [Red Oak Area] chamber function he was going to run ads in both papers."
Asked about the potential for the Waxahachie Daily Light to become involved, Hatfield said, "They're free to do what they want to do. We still have freedom of speech and freedom of the press in this country, but if [they] libel this newspaper, we will follow legal remedy for recourse."
Hatfield continued, "Brown is exemplifying the very thing we don't want in elective office. He's showing his true nature when he can't take a little heat. If he's doing this during the campaign, what will he do in office?"
"The Ellis County Press will continue to run background checks on all candidates running for public office in Ellis County. That's our responsibilty as as newspaper, to inform the public on a candidates past."
"We always give a candidate an opportunity to respond to any negative information we may find."
"In Brown's case, he apparently got angry over our reporter asking about an incident in Midlothian involving him," said Hatfield.
Supporters of former County Judge Al Cornelius, Hatfield said, were reportedly supporting Brown's campaign, which he said must be taken into consideration.
Cornelius was instrumental in having the three-story Ellis County Justice Center constructed after voters rejected the building at the polls twice. A 30-percent tax increase supported by establishment Republicans and Cornelius also led to a controversial property tax rollback in 2001 in which both the ECP and WDL reported different angles to.
Cornelius, who was elected in the early 90s after coming to town with the Superconducting SuperCollider project, was later censured by the GOP executive committee for his support of the controversial projects.
Having since retired to New Mexico, supporters of his - which include the WDL - are now saying they have "taken control" of the GOP again.