The South Texas Journal has responded to claims from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association regarding their claims of defamation from the news site and its publisher Matt Briscoe. The response stems from a letter sent to state lawmakers back in December that was addressed to the news publisher that claimed emails produced on the morning of December 10, 2019 ahead of the TWIA Board of Directors Meeting were false and fraudulent. Their letter also demanded that the South Texas Journal issue a retraction and publicly admit that the emails were fake. Tuesday’s response landed both swift and firm blows to the association and their Board of Directors.
The demand letter sent from TWIA dated on December 21, 2019 and signed by Board of Director Chairperson Brian Schofner said that if the emails were not retracted and an admission was made prior to December 27, 2019, that Schofner would bring it up to the TWIA Board of Directors for legal consideration.
Tuesday’s response clearly lays out the basis that TWIA “viciously” attacked a member of the media by threatening legal action and, according to sources may have even hired a private investigator to investigate Briscoe, which may have led to his arrest on criminal charges on December 27, the same date that TWIA demanded the emails be taken down.
The response sent out on Tuesday also includes a memo from Texas Farm Bureau Executive and TWIA Board Member Mike Gerik announcing that while the TWIA Actuary and Underwriting Committee did recommend a rate increase on November 19, 2019, he was not confident that he could get it passed by the Board of Directors at the December 10, 2019 Board Meeting held in Corpus Christi. He went onto conclude in the memo that he did not believe such a move would impact an agreement with the American Property Casualty Insurance Association which secured a 13% increase for FY2021.
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Attorney Bill Aleshire, who is representing Briscoe, also included in the response to TWIA that he believes that there is enough evidence to warrant a full investigation into the association’s practices from state regulators, the legislature and possibly law enforcement.
Tuesday’s response was also sent to a number of state lawmakers, many of whom sit on the House Committee on Insurance which meets in Rockport on Wednesday.