Rep. Enid Greene, R-Utah, is so weary of what she says are lies by her ex-husband, Joe Waldholtz, that her attorney warns she may sue any news media quoting his attacks on her.
"If individuals and the media keep defaming her and her family, she certainly reserves her rights," her attorney, Charles Roistacher, told the Deseret News Friday. "I don't understand why it continues. It has become tabloid-type trash."His comments came as he was asked about increasingly aggressive steps by Greene to protect her reputation - including Roistacher sending some letters to the media and a critic that lay legal groundwork for possible libel lawsuits.
Roistacher said Joe Waldholtz is "a person without any sense of the truth. He's like the old `Saturday Night Live' character, the pathological liar" - and said the media should know by now that they cannot trust anything he says that hurts Greene.
For example, Roistacher said the Salt Lake Tribune last week quoted Waldholtz as saying the people whom Greene asked to supervise his visit with their daughter were armed.
"That was absolutely false. They weren't armed. So the Tribune had to print a retraction," Roistacher said.
The newspaper did not print a formal retraction but instead published a story the following day containing Greene's side of the incident.
A public figure must prove malice - or that media or critics made statements they knew were false, or reasonably should have known were false - in order to win a libel suit. Roistacher said continual quoting of Waldholtz attacking Greene may constitute that.
"There comes a time when even a public figure can prove libel. I would imagine that if people keep defaming Rep. Greene, that will not be difficult. There comes a time when you make a presumption of malice" if lies are repeated, he said.
This week Roistacher wrote KTVX warning that a story it planned (and aired Thursday) - quoting Waldholtz saying he explained some problems to Enid in October, and promised to take the fall for her - was based on information it should have known was libelous.
The letter also said Greene and her father "reserve all rights to assert any and all claims should you broadcast and repeat these libelous, slanderous and defamatory statements."
After KTVX did run the story, Roistacher's law firm issued a press release Friday saying, "We do not know why (KTVX reporter Chris) Vanocur and Channel 4 continue to pander to Joseph P. Waldholtz, a man who is simply incapable of telling the truth. They have achieved a new low in tabloid-trash-type television."
It added, in Roistacher's firm's opinion, the station should have known that "based on the recent clearly demonstrated perjury and lying of Joseph P. Waldholtz, the station knew or had reason to know, that Joseph P. Waldholtz's remarks were false."
KTVX news director John Edwards defended his station's decision to broadcast the story.
"We gave Enid five hours of air time. Whether Joe Waldholtz is right or wrong is not the issue here. The issue is some sort of fairness to allow Waldholtz to tell his side of the story. This is the first time we've ever aired an interview with him," Edwards said.
Edwards also pointed out that Waldholtz has not yet been convicted of any crime - including perjury.
Waldholtz himself said Friday he didn't lie to KTVX. In fact, the meeting in October did occur and "there were discussions about me taking blame," Waldholtz confirmed to the Deseret News.
Joe would not confirm whether he had talked about the meeting with federal investigators. "Let's not delve into that right now," he said.
Waldholtz has been indicted on 27 counts of bank fraud. And while prosecutors said they did not believe Greene was involved in that fraud, they have not ruled out the possibility that she might be indicted on other charges stemming from the couple's problems.
KTVX isn't the only one to receive threatening letters from Greene's attorneys.
Roistacher wrote earlier this month to Waldholtz's cousin, Steve Slesinger, complaining that he told the Deseret News he felt Greene should have been indicted with Waldholtz on bank fraud charges - and felt money embezzled from his grandmother ended up in Greene's campaigns.
The quote by Slesinger was a minor part of a long story on the indictment. But Roistacher wrote, "You are instructed to cease and desist making such libelous, slanderous and defamatory statements and remarks, and we demand a retraction forthwith."
Roistacher defends such letters authorized by Greene - even though they are not cheap, and she has said she is now not wealthy - saying, "Anyone defamed like this should consider their options," and said they help the media to remember "they have a responsibility to be fair and accurate."