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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 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 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  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

The lawsuit says that each of them posted “Stop Otto” campaign signs on their property.  last fall that he was considering filing a lawsuit because of the website and signs.

In addition,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. 

Slattery abruptly of a planned candidate's debate in Emmaus on Tuesday as a result of the lawsuit. He calling the lawsuit a political stunt.

Shelly Rota Steiner April 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM
As a resident of Emmaus Borough, I have been privy to Mr. Donches and Mr.Slozer's theatrics durring important Council meetings and bending the facts of truth to better their adgenda. I have no issues with freedom of information and open government however when Mr. Donches abuses the system by filing numerous requests for informaiton costing the Borough of Emmaus hundreds possibly thousands of dollars (manily due to time needed for the Borough Manager to research the information and confer with the solicitor and meet with him to respond to the requests) I have a significant problem with it. Mr. Slozer and Mr. Donches constantly complain about waisting money but the frivilous requests to the Borough Manager, imparting of incorrect information to the general public (Community Park Baseball Field Improvement issues) and now an interestingly timed lawsuit, all are wasting taxpayer money!!!! It would be wonderful if they would consider doing a service for the betterment of our community not costing us money we do not have to spend. I applaud Mr. Slattery and Mr. Mackensie for not attending the bogus debate last evening...It shows that they are both stand-up men!
MS April 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM
When did free speech become a crime? This sounds to me like two losers who have their undies in a bunch....get over it and move on, your destroying a community of people that do not like you or your actions.....you will not prevail
Rob Hamill April 23, 2012 at 04:34 PM
This lawsuit has merit. Since when can someone publically attack a private citizen the way Slattery has attacked Otto as mentally unbalanced, insane, etc? John Donches was running for office, but he was accused of crimes he never committed. There are laws, and I think that Slattery will pay a high price for what should be slander and lies. I'm glad Otto and John have brought this to court for justice.
linen23 January 10, 2013 at 03:47 PM
If you haven't been sued by Slozer, Donches or Landi, you are not doing your job. They closely resemble the Axis of Evil.
Nancy Hill March 26, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Holy Cow, people! Simmer down (and learn how to spell)! I don't know Otto very well, just that he's very very intelligent and has an amazing memory. However, I do know John Donches and don't consider his requests for information, constant as they may be, theatrical. Theatrical just isn't built into this guy, a very good former neighbor, of mine. All y'all need to learn to really listen to the other side and relax. Turn that pointed finger 180 degrees.

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