CHARLESTON, W.Va., Oct. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, through his attorney, Rusty Webb, has filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia Family Values political action committee, Katz Radio Group of Pennsylvania and others associated with false and malicious advertisements against Walters in his re-election campaign.
The suit follows Monday's cease-and-desist letter to local broadcasting companies to discontinue running the advertisements against Walters that implied that he supported a convicted child molester. Following that letter, the defendants altered the advertisements slightly, but they still insinuate that Walters supports child molestation.
"I firmly believe in the First Amendment right to free speech, but people should not be allowed to get away with behavior that irresponsibly maligns the character of those of us who seek public office," Walters said. "The only way we can clean up this type of outrageous behavior is to fight it using all means available."
In the lawsuit, Walters charges that the defendants "wantonly and recklessly, with total disregard of the truth, and with knowledge of the falseness of the material fabricated by them, commenced a publicity campaign replete with lies and falsehoods, that libeled, slandered and defames Plaintiffs with the objective of defeating" Walters in his campaign for re-election to the West Virginia Senate representing District 8 in Kanawha and Putnam counties.
"Researching case law in West Virginia and elsewhere, I feel confident we will prevail," Webb said. "I have been instructed to pursue this lawsuit whether the result of the election for Sen. Walters is to win, lose or draw. This is the only way we can protect the democratic process from anonymous individuals and entities that play recklessly with the truth."
The lawsuit charges that the defendants violated West Virginia's election law, "which forbids the knowledgeable publication of any false statement in regard to a candidate" that is intended to affect the voting in an election. It further charges that the advertisements clearly were "designed to attack the morality of Republican Candidate Christopher Walters by insinuating that he testified in court on behalf of a convicted child molester and called a sexual predator trustworthy."
Not only did Walters not testify in the case of the child molester, but he has never testified in court on behalf of anyone. The lawsuit charges that the advertisements "are defamatory and libelous per se." It says the defendants acted "intentionally, recklessly, wantonly, maliciously, and with gross negligence" in running the advertisements and defaming Walters.
Webb filed the lawsuit today in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County against Katz Radio Group, West Virginia Family Values, and Steve Smith, the treasurer of West Virginia Family Values, as well as any other persons, associations, organizations or other entities yet to be revealed that participated in the actions contained in the suit. Joining Walters as a plaintiff in the suit is his wife, Elizabeth. The case is Civil Action No. 16-C-1641.
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SOURCE Sen. Chris Walters