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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:After a lottery commission employee filed a complaint against the lottery commissioner (Walter Criner), the governor’s former chief-of-staff (Mike McKinney) set up a meeting with the executive director for the lottery (Linda Cloud). The subject matter discussed in the meeting is contested by both parties. Cloud insists that McKinney informed her of the specifics of the allegations made against Criner and insists that McKinney instructed her not to discuss the matter with anyone. When she was questioned by a reporter about the allegations against Criner, Cloud told the reporter that she did not know about the allegations against Criner and that she had not discussed the matter with anyone in the governor’s office. However, when she later testified before the Sunset Commission, Cloud stated that she had discussed the allegations against Criner with employees of the governor’s office. The reporter then questioned McKinney and other employees of the governor’s office who all stated that the allegations against Criner were not discussed during the meeting. In response, Cloud filed a defamation suit against McKinney. In addition, Kathy Walt, a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign, stated, in response to a question about the defamation suit, that Cloud had lied repeatedly. Consequently, Cloud also filed a defamation suit against Walt. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Walt on the ground that there was no evidence that she made the statement with actual malice. The court also granted summary judgment in favor of McKinney on the grounds that he was immune from suit by the doctrines of sovereign immunity and official immunity. HOLDING:Affirmed. In light of �591 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts and Barr v. Matteo, 360 U.S. 564 (1959), several Texas courts of appeal have issued opinions concluding that various officials were immune from civil suits for defamation due to an absolute privilege. The court concludes that, as the governor’s chief-of-staff, McKinney is a high-ranking policy-making official who has an absolute privilege to publish defamatory statements made in the performance of his official duties. The court believes that the actions complained of by Cloud in this case fall within the chief-of-staff’s official duties. As the governor’s chief-of-staff, part of McKinney’s job is to answer questions regarding matters of public concern. Cloud sued McKinney for statements he made to a reporter at a press conference and for statements he made to two of his aides that were repeated to various reporters and ultimately published. These statements concerned the circumstances surrounding the resignation of a public official: a matter of great public interest. As a high-ranking official, McKinney’s statements to the press concerning personnel matters are within his official duties. The district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of McKinney on the grounds of official immunity. Cloud asserts that the district court also erred in granting Walt’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that there was no evidence Walt made the statement with actual malice. Cloud asserts that, by stating that Cloud had “lied repeatedly” and telling a reporter that her sworn statement was a lie, Walt accused Cloud of perjury and defamed her. Cloud argues that, even assuming she was a public official at the time the statement was made, Walt made the statements with actual malice. Given that this was a no-evidence summary judgment, that Cloud failed to provide evidence regarding Walt’s mental state, that Cloud admitted lying to a reporter, and that statements in Cloud’s affidavit are inconsistent with her testimony before the Sunset Commission, the court concludes that the district court did not err when it granted the summary judgment motion on the ground that there was no evidence Walt’s statements were made with actual malice. OPINION:David Puryear, J.; Law, C.J., Patterson and Puryear, JJ.

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