Bigamy, bribery, other allegations plague California congressional race

Miriam Raftery
Published: Monday June 5, 2006

Print This | Email This

Exclusive interview as candidate accused of bigamy

Explosive new revelations have rocked San Diego's 51st Congressional race, including allegations of bigamy and bribery leveled against two candidates (one Republican, one Democrat) vying for the seat currently occupied by Democrat Bob Filner. Filner has previously been accused of corruption by his opponents, leaving bewildered voters in the 51st to sift through the mud, no doubt feeling much like Diogenes--in search of an honest man.

On Friday, June 2, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a story stating that Republican candidate Jim Galley "was married to two women at the same time, defaulted on his child support payments and has been accused of abuse by one of his ex-wives." Galley, a water treatment operator, is running against teacher Miles Blake in the Republican primary for the 51st Congressional district.

But in an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, Galley maintained that the charges are unfounded. "If I'd been guilty of any of those three things, I'd be in jail. I've never even had a traffic ticket," said Galley, who added that he has no criminal record and expressed outrage at the newspaper for failing to check hospital and police records. "As a matter of fact, there's going to be a malice lawsuit against them," he said, adding that he also plans to sue his ex-wife.

RAW STORY was unable to verify or refute the claims of Galley or the Union-Tribune as of the time this story was published.

According to Galley, while on deployment with the Army, a JAC Corps officer advised him of the date when his divorce would be final. "Beth and I got married, returned three weeks later and found out the divorce had not gone through, so we had the marriage annulled," he said, adding that they remarried as soon as the divorce was actually finalized.

He admitted to missing three weeks of child support payments, which were later paid off. (That explanation varies significantly from what Galley is quoted as saying to the Union-Tribune. According to the newspaper, Galley first blamed several months' default on a back injury, but later said money was garnished from his wages for four years and later refunded due to a billing mix-up.)

A default judgment reported by the newspaper was for just $3.25, he added. "That's a real big one to hang on this," he observed.

Galley denies allegations of abuse and suggested that his ex-wife fabricated the allegations to obtain a restraining order because of a bitter divorce. He has since married a third time, to Carol, his wife for the past 14 years.

"If someone was an abuser, they would bring that into the relationship, and there has been none of that," Carol Galley told RAW STORY. "I have two daughters and he pretty much raised them; he has been very supportive."

The newspaper article also raised questions about Galley's military service. Galley's website states he was drafted into the Navy and later served four years in the Army. Galley has touted his military service on the campaign trail. The newspaper article does not question the length of his service in the Army, but noted that military records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate Galley was discharged just six weeks after entering the Navy. The newspaper also raised questions over whether or not Galley was drafted.

"I have requested my Selective service record as of Friday to show I was called up for the draft," Galley informed RAW STORY.

Asked if he believed his Republican primary opponents might have been behind the negative media story, Galley said that his ex-wife, a Democrat, had given information to the newspaper. "This probably came from the Democratic camp," he speculated.

Democrats also mired in firefight

Just one day before the Galley story broke, Democrat Danny Ramirez announced filing of a criminal complaint against Juan Vargas and Vargas' campaign aide George Bresnahan. Both Vargas and Ramirez are running against Filner in the Democratic primary, along with a fourth Democrat, Jesse Gonzalez.

Ramirez alleges that Vargas and his aide violated California Election Code 18205 by offering Ramirez "valuable consideration" if he would drop out of the Congressional race and run for the State Assembly instead. According to the Sacramento Capitol Morning Report on June 1st, Ramirez accused Bresnaham of visiting his home and stating explicitly that he'd been "sent by Juan Vargas to make and offer or deal with me in regard to not becoming a candidate for the 51st CD." Ramirez also claimed to have a witness to the attempted bribe, which reportedly included an offer of staff, political advisors and consultants. (Ramirez did not respond to an e-mail sent by RAW STORY requesting more information on this complaint.)

Asked about the criminal complaint alleging bribery by the Vargas' campaign, Filner told RAW STORY, "He was almost indicted for that before," he said, noting that Vargas' former aide, disgraced Councilman Ralph Insunza, was convicted on federal charges of conspiracy wire fraud and extortion. "They try to intimidate, offer jobs, or say you won't have a job. That is standard operating procedure for them."

Vargas, currently an Assemblyman, has run against Filner twice before. Even before the recent charges were leveled, the Democratic primary race in the 51st Congressional district had become one of the most contentious in recent memory.

Vargas' website claims Filner is corrupt, dangerous, ineffective and a hypocrite.

The site accuses Filner of using his position in Congress as a "get rich quick scheme" by paying his wife over $517,000 from his campaign account (a practice Filner has contended is legal,) and by supporting a controversial no-bid water treatment contract for Bajagua, a Mexican company, after pocketing $66,000 in contributions. (RAW STORY previously reported on the controversial Bajagua project, which was also supported by Congressman Duncan Hunter and Vice President Dick Cheney.)

Vargas' site also criticizes Filner for not being tough enough on child molesters and for accepting more special interest money than Vargas.

Last week, Vargas launched a TV ad that makes it appear as if Filner is talking with convicted ex-Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham about corruption – a depiction Filner has labeled as false in a letter to supporters.

"Juan Vargas labeling me as corrupt is like Kenneth Lay accusing me of fraud," Filner's letter stated. "While Juan has not yet been convicted of a crime, virtually everyone closest to him has been found guilty of something. Juan's former Chief-of Staff and hand picked successor on the San Diego City Council is now a convicted felon. Another of Juan's political cronies made millions off the poorest people in National City as a slum lord…And recently, Juan's chief campaign consultant was convicted of a felony for misusing public money... If Juan truly didn't have any knowledge of the crimes his close associates have committed then he may well be the most clueless man in America."

Vargas did not return calls requesting comments for this article.

Miles, a Republican running against Galley, believes Democrats sniping at each other will help his party have a better shot at unseating Filner in November.

"Vargas is going to put a big hole through Filner. Both of them are going to be pretty bloody when it's over," he said, according to a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article.

Why would Democrats resort to tarring each other in a primary race?

Noting the district's heavily Democratic registration, San Diego-based political consultant John Kennedy of JP Kennedy & Associates observed that the Democratic primary will in all likelihood determine who will serve in Congress. "Unless the winner turns out to have a Duke Cunningham type problem, the outcome will be determined in June," he predicted. "The Democrat will go on to win in November."