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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Former Congressman Sues Cal Lutheran

Former congressman Elton Gallegly, who represented a Ventura County district for 26 years, has accused California Lutheran University in a lawsuit of refusing to account for more than $1 million in donations and for failing to fully establish the Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement on its campus.

According to a press release from Gallegly, he agreed to donate papers from his time in office to the Thousand Oaks school. Later, Gallegly said he raised money for the construction of a namesake center at the school.

In return, Gallegly alleges that Cal Lutheran promised to archive his papers, organize an internship program and maintain a speakers series, which hasn’t happened.

The building was constructed, but “the university has not followed through on its commitment and is now threatening to eliminate the exact replica of Gallegly’s congressional office in Washington, D.C. that was built at the university’s own suggestion and direction,” according to the release. “This year, the university gave Gallegly an ultimatum demanding that the furniture, plaques and pictures be removed.”

“I have never sued anyone in my lifetime, so I do not take this step lightly,’’ Gallegly said in a statement. “But I feel I have no alternative but to compel Cal Lutheran to live up to the agreement they sought with me to establish the Gallegly Center and curate my papers and materials. Not just for me but also the donors who generously gave to bring this into fruition.”

Gallegly is seeking for the court to make a “declaration of the rights and duties between the parties concerning the establishment of the charitable trust” for the center and for an accounting of the funds raised.

Karin Grennan, media relations manager at Cal Lutheran, said the school had not yet been served with the lawsuit but she provided an update on the center.

“A California-based archive, media and research company is in the process of organizing and preserving the congressional papers. They will be stored in the alcove where the office replica has been so that they will be accessible to researchers,” Grennan said in an email to the Business Journal. “The university is continuing to run and raise funds for the Gallegly Fellows program, and we are committed to revitalizing the speakers series. We plan to hold events related to the fellows, the speakers series, public service and civic engagement in the Gallegly Center.”

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