Jun 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Lawsuit claims Fox News aided Georgia congressional candidate's campaign

The Fox News Channel logo seen displayed on a smartphone. Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A former congressional candidate in Georgia filed suit on Thursday against Fox News and host Brian Kilmeade, claiming they conspired to help one of his political opponents win the Republican primary for Georgia's 2nd congressional district.

Driving the news: In the lawsuit first reported by WRBL, Wayne Johnson accused Fox News of violating election and campaign finance laws by allowing fellow Republican Jeremy Hunt to appear numerous times on its programs without offering the same benefit to other candidates.

Details: The lawsuit claims Fox News gave Hunt more than $2.8 million worth of airtime on its programs and violated the Equal Time Act, which requires stations to provide equal time to political opponents who request it.

  • In one appearance, Hunt used his airtime to make a direct appeal for donations to his campaign, saying, “I can’t do this alone, I need your support. If you would just logon to JeremyforGeorgia.com and chip in a few bucks, it would mean the world to us," according to the lawsuit.
  • Johnson complained to the network twice before the primary election that it was violating the Equal Time Act and making "unlawful contributions in-kind" to Hunt via the appearances, according to the lawsuit.
  • In response to the complaints, Fox News offered Johnson an appearance and Hunt's appearances "abated for a few weeks" before picking up again, the lawsuit states.
  • West also requested equal airtime from Fox News but was denied, the lawsuit states.

State of play: Johnson finished third in the southwest Georgia district's May primary, behind Hunt and Chris West.

  • Hunt and West will face off in a runoff election for the Republican nomination on Tuesday.
  • The race, which is considered the only competitive Congressional race in Georgia, has attracted money and endorsements from GOP party leaders who want to unseat longtime Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop.

The other side: "It’s sad that a twice-failed candidate, Wayne Johnson, and Chris West have resorted to such desperate tactic," Hunt told Axios. "This lawsuit will be dismissed as quickly as Wayne Johnson was dismissed by voters of the 2nd district."

  • "Chris West is actively participating in and perpetuating in this frivolous lawsuit," Hunt added. "I have no control over their programming decisions. I’ve been a longtime commentator on Fox News since 2016."
  • West said he is not involved with the lawsuit. He added: "From never living in this district before February to 90% of his campaign contributions coming from outside the district, this is just another in a long list of issues Jeremy Hunt can't seem to explain."

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

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