CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – A personal feud between two Logan County politicians has boiled over into a Kanawha County courtroom.
Democrat Richard Ojeda, who served briefly in the State Senate before resigning, says current Republican State Senator Rupert “Rupie” Phillips used his name and voice without permission in campaign ads. The ads painted him in a negative light, Ojeda says.
Further, Ojeda maintains Phillips drew conclusions in the commercials that cast him (Ojeda) in ways that are not true.
The suit was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court by Wheeling attorneys Teresa Toriseva and Joshua Miller of Toriseva Law. Reached by phone, Phillips said he had not been served with a copy of the suit and was reluctant to comment without seeing it.
The case is assigned to Judge Joanna Tabit.
According to the suit, even though the two were not running against each other, Phillips created radio ads making direct references to Ojeda and using clips of Ojeda’s voice.
Ojeda resigned as a state senator to run for President of the United States. He withdrew from that race and lost in a Congressional race in the fall of 2020. He served in the Senate from December 2016 to February 2019.
According to the complaint, Phillips intimated that Ojeda had said he wished cancer on those with opposing political views. The suit denies that was or is Ojeda’s position.
“Through the use of (Ojeda’s) name and voice, (Phillips’) ads quoted, suggested and implied that … Mr. Ojeda has wished cancer on candidates with political ideology other than his own,” the suit says.
It then lists apparently misnumbered “Caused (sic) of Action.”
The “counts” are listed as defamation; invasion of privacy; publicity unreasonably placing another in a false light before the public; invasion of privacy; appropriation of another’s name or likeness; violation of the right of publicity; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and punitive damages.
Ojeda is demanding a jury trial.
Phillips served earlier as a Democrat in the House before switching to Republican. He lost the 2018 GOP nomination for Congress before being elected to the State Senate in 2020.