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Gallegly Sues Station Owner in Ad Feud

August 10, 1995|PAUL ELIAS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rep. Elton Gallegly on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against television station owner and former political supporter John Huddy, further escalating their rancorous feud over $9,500.

The bitter battle began shortly after the November election when Gallegly, a Simi Valley Republican, asked that $9,500 of a $16,800 deposit he left for political advertisements be returned to his campaign committee.

But Huddy, who owns KADY-TV in Oxnard, said he owed Gallegly nothing--that all the money had been used on commercials. In fact, Huddy insists, he gave Gallegly a good deal.

Since the dispute began, the two have exchanged increasingly nasty telephone calls and letters, which led to Huddy's filing of a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.

"It is our concern that Rep. Gallegly may have circumvented election laws by refusing to pay for video production and by demanding certain charges be waived as a 'campaign contribution,' " Huddy wrote in a letter submitted to the commission.

Gallegly denied Huddy's charges and upped the ante in their feud Wednesday when he filed the suit.

"I have a reputation for sometimes putting my principles in front of better judgment," Gallegly said. "But this goes beyond all of that. It's a matter of black and white."

Gallegly is asking for the $9,500 plus more than $50,000 in punitive damages in the suit, which alleges fraud, intentional misrepresentation and breach of contract.

According to the suit, Huddy called Gallegly in October and falsely told him that his opponent, Kevin Ready, was prepared to spend up to $25,000 on advertisements at the station. That conversation enticed Gallegly into making the $16,800 deposit, the lawsuit said.

But because Ready did not spend a certain amount on advertising, the suit says, equal-access laws prevented Gallegly from spending the full amount.

Huddy's version is markedly different from the congressman's. It was Gallegly who called, Huddy said.

"Gallegly was calling me because I had been a supporter of his," Huddy said.

Huddy's wife had donated $1,000 to Gallegly's reelection campaigns in recent years, according to campaign records.

Huddy said Gallegly "went ballistic and he was panicky" after he heard that Ready was prepared to run commercials.

"Because of the past relationship with us, he thought he had a free ride," Huddy said. He also accused Gallegly of threatening to use his political influence to bring Federal Communications Commission pressure to his station--a charge Gallegly vigorously denies.

"That is blatantly untrue," Gallegly said. "The contract is what speaks for itself."

The suit states that "the foregoing conduct of defendant, John D. Huddy, was intentional and malicious and performed with the intent to deceive and defraud."

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