Jason Gibson, the Houston trial lawyer who was sued in July by two political consulting companies that allege he failed to pay them for work on his U.S. Senate campaign, filed answers in those suits on Aug. 9. In one, he also filed third-party claims against his former campaign manager.
In separate petitions filed on July 25 in Harris County district courts, Stanford Campaigns of Austin alleges Gibson failed to pay $15,855 for campaign work, and Lonestar Strategies of Houston alleges Gibson owes it $12,500 for campaign services.
In his answers, Gibson denies the allegations in Stanford Campaigns LLC v. Jason A. Gibson and in Lonestar Strategies LLC v. Jason A. Gibson. He seeks a take-nothing judgment in his favor in each suit.
Gibson’s affirmative defenses in Lonestar include accord and satisfaction, failure of consideration, fraud, waiver, ambiguity, consent, justification, mistake, ratification and failure to mitigate damages.
His affirmative defenses in Stanford include failure of consideration, fraud, release, statute of frauds, waiver, ambiguity, consent, justification, mistake, privilege, ratification and failure to mitigate damages.
Gibson brings counterclaims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and conspiracy against Stanford, and he brings counterclaims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation against Lonestar.
In both answers, Gibson alleges he never signed contracts with the political consulting companies.
Brett Hill, an associate with Houston’s Chris Bell PC who represents Lonestar and Stanford in the suits, says the counterclaims are “without merit.”
“It’s a contract case. Gibson wanted to be a U.S. senator; he asked Lonestar and Stanford to help him achieve that goal. Political consultants don’t work for free,” Hill says.
Additionally, in his original answer, counterclaims and third-party claims filed in Stanford Campaigns, Gibson brings fraud and conspiracy third-party claims against Ed Espinoza of Austin, who managed Gibson’s December 2011 to February 2012 campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.
In the answer, which he filed in the 190th District Court in Harris County, Gibson alleges he hired Espinoza to “advise” him on matters in connection with his campaign, but Espinoza was “never given authorization or permission to enter into contracts on behalf of Gibson.” Gibson alleges he met with Stanford once but, after that one-hour meeting, “made it clear to Espinoza he did not want Stanford to do anything for the time being.”
Gibson alleges that, after he withdrew from the race in February, Stanford Campaigns invoiced him for $15,855, but he had “never agreed to any terms with Stanford.”
Gibson alleges that Espinoza and Stanford “colluded and conspired” to validate the Stanford invoice by listing it as a debt on a Federal Election Commission report Gibson filed after he withdrew from the race.
Gibson seeks unspecified actual damages plus expenses and interest from Stanford and Espinoza, along with punitive damages under Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code §41.003(a) and a take-nothing judgment. He seeks the same from Lonestar Strategies.
Espinoza, of Ed Espinoza Strategic Consulting, says Gibson “knew everything that was happening all along” and Espinoza and the attorney in Washington, D.C. who filed the FEC report, Neil Reiff, “did everything according to the letter of the law” by including the expenses from Stanford in the report.
“I’ve been in business for 20 years, never had a problem,” Espinoza says.
Reiff, a founding member in Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb in D.C., declines comment on Gibson’s FEC filing.
“All I did was assist them in putting this report into format,” Reiff says.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys