Clark Jones – the Tennessee car dealer, Democrat fund-raiser and Al Gore pal who is suing WorldNetDaily over allegations made in a series of articles published during the 2000 presidential election season – has been appointed by Tennessee’s Democrat Governor-elect Phil Bredesen as moderator of a panel advising the new governor on appointments in the areas of homeland security and the state’s department of safety.
The announcement of Jones’ appointment was made in the Tennessean newspaper on Nov. 27, along with several others by Bredesen.
Although Bredesen’s advisory groups have no official status, some local political observers in west Tennessee believe Jones could receive a cabinet-level post in the new governor’s administration, perhaps even within the department of safety, a slot that would give Jones influence over the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
One longtime Tennessee politician notes that such an appointment might very well be in the offing. “With Jones heading up that advisory group,” the source told WND on condition of anonymity, “he could very well end up as a major player in that department.”
Previous Tennessee governors have moved much more quickly to complete their cabinets. But according to a report in the Tennessean on Christmas Day, Bredesen has filled only 5 of the 21 department head slots on his appointments platter.
Jones filed a $165 million defamation suit against reporters Charles C. Thompson II and Tony Hays, WorldNetDaily, WTVF-TV in Nashville, and several other defendants in March 2001. In it, Jones claims personal embarrassment and humiliation as a result of some of the articles, which said that he reportedly intervened in a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into narcotics trafficking in Hardin County in 1999. In addition, the car dealer claims that the articles implicated him in the 1980 arson of his own business, the Jones Motor Company, and also pegged him as a suspected drug dealer. He claims business losses and health problems resulted from the series as well.
Jones, who had raised more than $100,000 for Gore’s campaign and, sources say, frequently bragged to other Tennessee businessmen about his close links to Gore, was reportedly humiliated by Gore’s loss of his home state, which cost Gore the election. The Thompson and Hays series on Gore and his cronies, including Jones, arguably played a significant factor in Gore’s loss, according to some Tennessee political observers.
The case, which has seen a succession of judges, is currently awaiting decisions on jurisdictional appeals.
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