DALLAS (CN) – A man who founded and runs summer food programs in Texas claims a Fox TV station defamed him in a false and malicious report that claimed taxpayer money for the programs was missing, and that blazoned his 15-year-old convictions across the screen, atop his photo.
Bruce Carter, the founder of the WAG Program and the OSP Fund, claims that KDFW-TV defamed him in its Aug. 22 report on allegations that Carter and his programs were being investigated by state and federal agencies about allegedly missing taxpayer funds.
Carter says KDFW Fox 4 and its reporter Becky Oliver “knowingly broadcast false and misleading allegations” and “salacious and untrue statements.”
He says the defendants “are not aware that any federal agency has ever investigated the use or location of funds relating to the 2011 summer food program,” and that they “chose not to completely or accurately portray the audit conducted by the Texas Department of Agriculture regarding those certain advance payments made by the state to WAG and OSP.”
The WAG Program and the OSP Fund administer and manage summer food programs for children in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Carter says. This summer in Texas, the programs served about 225,000 meals, and “are inundated on a nearly daily basis by requests from across their service area for meals and services,” according to the complaint.
Carter says his criminal history was mischaracterized by the news report. The defendants “emblazoned the terms ‘transporting firearms’ and ‘money laundering’ across the screen, juxtaposed on top of a picture of Mr. Carter,” he says.
Carter says that a “cursory review of public records would have revealed to Oliver and Fox the true nature of the charges that Carter has faced,” and that the defendants failed to report that Carter “had more than repaid his debts to society.”
Carter claims the station aired an interview with a person who claimed he had not been paid by WAG, but who actually had been “overpaid and currently has an obligation to return a portion of the overpayment to WAG.”
Another person making a wage claim was “actually prompted by Oliver to ‘discover’ the existence of the alleged wage claims,” Carter says.
“In short, the defendants may have been creating a story where none existed, rather than report on the facts.”
Carter says that Oliver and KDFW-TV made the “conscious decision” to mischaracterize his 15-year-old convictions as a “springboard to unfairly paint Carter in a bad light.”
Carter says that the morning after the report aired, state Representative Stefani Carter (R-Dallas) released “a disturbing press releasereferencing defendants’ report and the plaintiffs,” claiming that Carter is guilty of fraud, theft, and guilty of stealing tax dollars.
Carter says Rep. Carter’s comments, based on the news report, “also infer that Carter lacks a ‘high degree of ethics and superior business integrity.’ Rep. Carter cites no other source of information for her perceptions other than the defendants’ August 22 broadcast.”
And he says the broadcast “has had one other startling and alarming effect. Carter, his wife and family have been the recipient of several graphic death threats and threats of other violence in the immediate wake of the broadcast,” and have had to request increased police patrols in their neighborhood and near their home.
Carter seeks punitive damages for defamation, business disparagement, and tortious interference with prospective relations.
He is represented in Dallas County Court by R. Lee Barrett of Hurst.