Advertisement

Agent Accuses Gallegly of Lying About FBI : Elections: The congressman denies that he filed complaints against four agents.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an unusual public attack, a retired FBI agent Wednesday accused Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) of lying to cover up his instigation of an internal FBI investigation of four Los Angeles agents in 1987 and 1988.

The agent, James Paulson of Santa Clarita, also endorsed Sang Korman, Gallegly’s opponent in the June 5 Republican primary election, saying Gallegly is “not a friend” of law enforcement officers.

In a telephone interview from his Washington office, Gallegly repeated earlier denials that he filed complaints against the agents, which Paulson said caused the investigation.

Paulson’s comments, delivered at a news conference organized by Korman, may prove politically damaging to Gallegly, a conservative who has sought to position himself as a champion of law enforcement.

Advertisement

Although political analysts give Korman, a wealthy Korean-American real estate investor, virtually no chance of upsetting Gallegly, the challenger has repeatedly attacked Gallegly with the FBI issue in recent weeks.

The FBI investigated three of the agents after they lobbied Gallegly in 1987 to support then-pending legislation to raise agents’ overtime pay rates. A fourth agent was investigated for allegedly conspiring to thwart Gallegly’s reelection.

The Times reported last month that documents released by the FBI show the yearlong probe was conducted because Gallegly made repeated accusations against the agents to high-ranking FBI officials. The documents also indicate the agents were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Gallegly also asked FBI officials to delay their inquiry so it would not interfere with his 1988 reelection campaign, the records said.

Advertisement

Paulson said Gallegly’s accusations damaged morale among the 400 agents in the Los Angeles office and jeopardized the careers of the four agents who were investigated.

“He subjected them to months of needless investigation by making cruel and spurious allegations against them,” said Paulson. “What’s more, he tried to pull a cover-up so that the public wouldn’t know anything at all about this sordid series of events.”

He said many Los Angeles agents “are wondering if it’s worth staying in the FBI if you can be subjected to the kind of abuse dished out by Congressman Gallegly.”

Paulson said he served in the Los Angeles office from 1977 until last week and is a friend of two of the four agents who were investigated. He said he retired in part because he wanted to be free to speak out against Gallegly.

Advertisement

Paulson said a majority of Los Angeles-based agents live in Gallegly’s 21st Congressional District, which includes northern and western Los Angeles County and southern Ventura County. Before the investigation, he said, the agents considered Gallegly “their congressman.” Now, however, “I’m sure there’s no one in the L.A. office who’d give Gallegly one cent, much less vote for him,” Paulson said.

Gallegly said his campaign is supported by many retired agents. He also cited a plaque given him by appreciative FBI officials in 1987 after he spoke at a memorial service for agents killed in the line of duty.

“If what took place demoralized the agents, it had to do with the press and . . . politicizing it, which I certainly am unhappy about,” he said.

According to the FBI documents, the internal probe began when Gallegly called the Los Angeles office after three agents visited him to seek his support on the overtime bill. Gallegly said publicly that he initially called only to inquire whether the agents reflected the FBI’s official position. The documents show, however, that he complained the agents had been intimidating and unprofessional.

Advertisement

The records also indicate that an irate Gallegly later contacted top FBI officials seven times to assert that the fourth agent, Gregory L. Mercier, and unidentified other agents were conspiring to prevent his 1988 reelection by organizing a letter-writing campaign by FBI agents against Gallegly.


Advertisement
Advertisement