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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County GOP chair files defamation suit in party battle

By Katy Sword, Columbian politics reporter
Published: October 17, 2017, 2:50pm

Clark County Republican Party chairman David Gellatly has filed a defamation suit against Richard Colwell, a precinct committee officer with the CCRP.

The suit was filed Oct. 6 with the Clark County Superior Court just days after a tumultuous CCRP board meeting that resulted in a call for an Oct. 17 meeting where PCOs will vote on a motion to remove State Committeeman Joe Wagner, State Committeewoman Katja Delavar, Treasurer Suzanne Gerhardt and Secretary Karen Trumbull.

In his lawsuit, Gellatly accuses Colwell of defamation, libel and actual malice. When contacted on Tuesday, Gellatly declined to elaborate on the complaint.

The complaint states that since his election as party chair in December 2016, Gellatly “has faced a withering stream of hurtful and damaging accusations which are false.”

Among those is an embezzlement accusation made by Colwell against Gellatly.

The complaint references an email sent Aug. 31 by Colwell to another party member.

Gellatly said the allegation is false and states Colwell acted with the intent to harm.

The complaint also makes reference to libel, slander and intentional inflection of emotional distress by Colwell and other unspecified parties.

Earlier this year, several billboards popped up in Clark County accusing Gellatly of abuse of power, finances and trust. The billboards point to a website, removegellatly.com. The website and several others, outline a list of 13 grievances including allegations that Gellatly violated committee finance rules. But the identity of the person who placed the signs around Clark County and the identity of those managing several websites are unknown — hence the complaint against John and Jane Does.

Colwell said he’s surprised anyone would take “one word out of one email to one person and make a court case over it.

“However, after learning about the swampiness, narcissistic and abusive nature of David Gellatly, this legal harassment and intimidation doesn’t surprise me at all,” Colwell said.

Gellatly’s attorney, Greg Cheney, said Gellatly maintains his complaint that he is being unfairly defamed.

“This was further made inflammatory in that, as the complaint alleges, some of the libelers have gone to great lengths to remain anonymous in their defamation,” Cheney said. “Mr. Gellatly values his reputation highly and has worked hard to establish it. He was unfortunately pushed to file this suit by repetitive defamation despite demands to stop. He was left with no option to defend his reputation but the instant suit, which he will vigorously pursue.”

Gellatly seeks punitive damages against Colwell and the unnamed parties to punish them for their actions and deter future, similar action. The amount is to be determined at trial.

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Columbian politics reporter