- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

Larry Klayman, founder and former president of Judicial Watch, accused those now running the watchdog agency in a federal court lawsuit of breaching his severance contract, disparaging his name and reputation and misusing donations.

Mr. Klayman, now in private law practice in Miami, where he ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat, is seeking nearly $4 million in actual compensation, as well as interest and undetermined punitive damages, in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. He also has requested a jury trial.

In a telephone interview from his Miami office, Mr. Klayman accused current Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton of promoting his “personal agenda, interests and political ideology” and said he was “betrayed by those he trusted to lead the organization.”

“They lied to donors and supporters, misused their monies, failed to honor their agreement with me, and disparaged my name and reputation, all in a selfish power grab,” Mr. Klayman said.

“And since I left, the energy, creativity and success of the organization has dwindled down to almost nothing, with one defeat after another in cases I filed to clean up corruption in government and the legal systems.

“I thus have been forced to step in to save ‘my baby,’ the only public interest group that, without fear, had the guts to do what was right for the American people,” he said.

Mr. Fitton described the suit as “ridiculous,” saying it is “full of lies and distortions which Judicial Watch will address in court.”

“His lawsuit is a tactical maneuver designed to distract attention away from the fact that Klayman owes more than a quarter-million dollars to Judicial Watch,” Mr. Fitton said.

“This lawsuit is without merit and is an attempt to smear Judicial Watch’s good name and the reputation of Judicial Watch’s fine employees.”

Mr. Klayman left Judicial Watch in 2003 for the Senate race in Florida.

He said in the suit that the organization failed to respect a severance agreement with him by “engaging in a pattern of fraud, disparagement, defamation, false advertising and other egregious acts.”

The suit, which was served on Judicial Watch yesterday, accuses Mr. Fitton of sending out false and misleading fundraising letters and misusing donor money.

It also said Mr. Fitton “allowed to remain as head of the high dollar Judicial Watch fundraising department” a man Mr. Klayman said had “a shady fundraising past and was in bed with Congressman Tom DeLay.”

In a separate suit filed in circuit court in Miami, the former director of Judicial Watch’s southern office, Sandy Cobas, accused Mr. Fitton and others of “disparaging her Cuban/Hispanic heritage, defaming her, and taking other actions to force her out of Judicial Watch because she was loyal to Klayman.”

Mr. Klayman says it’s time to “return Judicial Watch to the millions of Americans who support it.”

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