A judge has thrown out a defamation lawsuit filed by Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning against The Kansas City Star over a column on Medicaid expansion.

Johnson County District Judge Paul Gurney ruled Tuesday that the Overland Park Republican didn’t show that The Star acted with malice in publishing Steve Rose’s column in January.  The judge ordered Denning to pay The Star’s estimated $40,000 in legal fees.

Denning alleged The Star and Rose defamed him because Rose attributed statements against Medicaid expansion to him that he never made.  Rose contends the statements came from a 2018 conversation.  The judge plans to rule later on Denning’s claims against Rose.

Star editorial page editor Colleen McCain Nelson called the lawsuit “a political ploy.”

Denning’s attorney didn’t immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment.

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