MACON, Ga. — An unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress is suing a former opponent and Fox News, claiming the opponent got free "informercials."
Wayne Johnson of Macon, who ran in last month's primary elections, filed a civil suit Thursday against Jeremy Hunt, Fox News, and Fox News host Brian Kilmeade.
Johnson accused them of "racketeering" and is suing Hunt and others under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act -- the "RICO statute."
Johnson was a Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia seat. Hunt and Chris West face off in a June 21 runoff for the Republican nomination.
The suit was filed in Columbus, and follows the results of the Republican primary on May 24 for the Second Congressional District.
In the primary, Hunt and Chris West advanced to the runoff, earning around 30 percent of votes apiece. Johnson finished third and was 7,000 votes and around 11.5 percent behind Chris West.
Johnson claims Hunt, Fox News, and Brian Kilmeade colluded to provide nearly $3 million worth of free airtime to Hunt to ensure his selection as the Republican nominee for the US State House Representative seat for the Second Congressional District of Georgia.
A press release by Johnson's lawyers Cooper, Baron & Cooper says that Hunt, Fox News, and Kilmeade engaged in "unlawful enterprise," and claims they had several "violations of Federal and State election laws and campaign finance laws".
The suit also alleges this "free airtime" led to increased donations for Hunt and his appearances on the Fox News platform serve as "infomercials".
The suit also says Hunt claims to be a "Columbus Army Veteran," when "he has only lived in Columbus for a matter of months".
Johnson also argues Hunt's title as "Army Captain" doesn't qualify him "to be called upon to discuss National Security Measures...on Fox News segments."
Wayne Johnson's law firm issued a statement claiming "Washington DC political operatives" along with Hunt, Fox, and Kilmeade were trying to steal the congressional seat.
Johnson also says the defendants violate the trust of the people of Georgia through their use of Fox News assets, and Hunt's campaign was only propaganda.
In response to these claims, Jeremy Hunt released a statement that said "Wayne Johnson is a twice-failed candidate desperately seeking his last 5 minutes of fame. It is sad that Wayne Johnson and Chris West have resorted to such desperate tactics. This lawsuit will be dismissed as quickly as Wayne Johnson was dismissed by the voters of the 2nd District. It's telling that Chris West refuses to denounce dirty tricks like these often played by the radical left against true conservative candidates."
Most of Johnson's claims are based on suggestions that Fox news and the FCC violated the Equal Time Rule, which requires broadcasters to give equal time to opposing candidates.
It is unclear yet whether these claims will hold up, since the Equal Time Rule is broad, and contains exceptions.
Johnson said he is seeking attorney fees and financial compensation for damages.
Georgia's Second Congressional District includes Columbus, most of Bibb County and several rural counties in between. Sanford Bishop, a Columbus Democrat, has represented the district since 1993.
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