May 29, 2024
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Gallegly sues CLU over public service center


UPDATE, 2:48 p.m., 11/16/2021: This article was revised to include comments from a California Lutheran spokesperson.

Former U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly has filed a lawsuit against California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks alleging problems with the funding and establishment of an on-campus public service center named after him.

The complaint, filed Nov. 15 in Ventura County Superior Court, alleges the university has not accounted for more than $1 million raised by Gallegly, and breached its contract to archive Gallegly’s congressional papers and establish the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center For Public Service and Civic Engagement on the CLU campus. The center opened at CLU’s Pearson Library in 2018.

The suit names the university itself as a defendant, along with CLU President Lori Varlotta and Chis Kimball, who was CLU president from 2008 to 2020.

In a news release from Sacramento-based Stutzman Public Affairs, Gallegly’s attorney, Charles Slyngstad, said Gallegly agreed to an “arrangement with Cal Lutheran because the school sought him out and lobbied him to create the Gallegly Center at the campus. The apparent bait and switch and lack of financial transparency by the university is disturbing.”

Karin Grennan, CLU’s media relations manager, said in an email to the Business Times that a California-based archive, media and research company is in the process of organizing and preserving Gallegly’s congressional papers. They will be stored in an alcove that previously housed a replica of Gallegly’s office in Washington, D.C., and will be accessible to researchers, Grennan said.

“The university is continuing to run and raise funds for the Gallegly fellows program, and we are committed to revitalizing the speakers series,” she said. “We plan to hold events related to the fellows, the speakers series, public service and civic engagement in the Gallegly Center.”

Gallegly, a Republican from Simi Valley, represented parts of Ventura County in the House of Representatives from 1987 through 2012.

In 2011, Gallegly began discussions with CLU representatives to receive his papers and related materials from his congressional career, according to the 11-page legal complaint. Gallegly’s lawsuit says the university asked him to locate the center at CLU and committed to archiving his papers and materials and fostering a distinguished speakers endowment in conjunction with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

Gallegly wanted his archives to “be used in connection with the advancement of public service, generating interest in persons to get involved, because he believed that the future of democracy depends on the character of the people we prepare for public service,” the complaint states.

The university’s deal with the Gallegly was finalized in 2012. In his lawsuit, Gallegly claims the university “has not developed the Gallegly Center programs, including without limitation, the several fellowships, residences, and the distinguished speaker series, and as not moved forward with the Gallegly Center archive and collection project, as the parties and donors intended.” The professional archiving of Gallegly’s career, the suit states, “has still not been performed, despite CLU’s years-long commitment to professionally archive the collections,” and CLU has not given Gallegly “a proper accounting of donations and expenditures.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order CLU to account for all funds received and spent, and for unspecified damages.

The Gallegly Center opened at CLU’s Pearson Library in 2018. (courtesy photo)