Former Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones sues Sen. Bart Hester over tweet

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A political debate is now moving from social media to an Arkansas courtroom.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones officially filed a defamation suit against Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Bart Hester in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Thursday.

The lawsuit stems from a social media post from May 1 made by Hester where he reshared a post made by Jones, who himself was replying to a post about recent protests on college campuses tied to the conflict in Palestine and the Israeli response.

The original post, from an Arkansas Times editor, expressed the opinion that past student-led mass protests were often seen as being “right” in the long run, giving examples of the Vietnam War and invasions by the U.S. in the Middle East following September 11 based on false reports of WMDs.

Jones replied to the comment with the statement, “We would do well to NOT ignore them.”

Hester later replied to Jones’ reply, writing that Jones was “taking a Pro Hamas Terrorist position.” He also wrote that the Democrat “may want to take a knee to terrorist sympathizers.” The Cave Springs Republican tagged Jones twice in his post, along with a tag for the Arkansas Democratic Party.

In a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit, Jones said he filed the defamation with malice suit in an effort to protect “civil public discourse.” Jones added that he tried to “quietly” find a way to resolve the situation, but claimed that Hester, “chose confrontation.”

“Today, I filed a civil lawsuit against Bart Hester for defamation with malice. This case is about protecting civil public discourse. It is about an apparent inability to have a grown-up conversation without someone defaming another person.

“The President of the Arkansas Senate should engage in vigorous debate about ideas and policies. However, they do not get to use their platform to lie about and slander citizens of the State who hold different views.

“Make no mistake. This case is not about money. If it were, Sen. Hester is not the one to sue. This case is bigger than politics. This is about human decency and making bullying with false rhetoric a costly endeavor.

“We tried other routes to correct this wrong quietly in the way gentlemen should handle their differences. Bart chose confrontation. And so, he will have it.”

Chris Jones

KARK 4 News reached out to Hester for a comment regarding the lawsuit. While he has not yet offered a response to legal motion, Hester told KARK 4 News reporter Samantha Boyd earlier in the month that he was not removing the post since he believed nothing in it was not accurate.

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