Lolo/Lemanu re-election campaign committee being sued for unpaid ads
Unpaid radio advertisements totaling more than $5,000 by the Committee to Re-Elect Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga in the 2016 gubernatorial race have resulted in a lawsuit being filed in the Small Claims Court.
The outstanding bill is for Samoan and English radio ads aired on 93 KHJ and V103, local broadcast stations, owned by South Seas Broadcasting Inc., whose general manager Joey Cummings told Samoa News last Friday that the small claims suit came after all attempts failed in the past several months to collect the outstanding debt owed by the Lolo/Lemanu re-election campaign committee.
“I have all my proof and information, including emails and other correspondence,” he said.
According to the court filing, the outstanding debt totals $5,703 for “unpaid ads on radio” and a court hearing is set for Sept. 11th. Samoa News wasn’t able to immediately confirm if there is an attorney representing the Lolo/Lemanu re-election campaign committee, which has been dissolved, although it's unclear when exactly that happened.
“I would really like to get our outstanding bill paid, and that’s all we want,” Cummings said in a phone interview.
He explained that campaign advertisements are on a pre-paid basis, and the contact person on the contract with the campaign committee was Robert Tuala.
Although campaign ads are pre-paid, meaning payment is made before ads are aired, there are times during the campaign season when there is a request for an ad to run during a certain time and day, while payment is forthcoming.
Cummings said courtesy was given to the Lolo/Lemanu re-election campaign committee following their request for an ad to run, and they agreed that payment would be submitted a day or two after the ad was aired. “And it did work, but as we got closer to Election Day, it was getting difficult to get payment,” he said.
To collect the outstanding bills, Cummings said, “all appropriate forms of communications were used” such as emails and letters. Copies of the outstanding invoices were also sent via emails or letters.
When asked about the reply he received from his requests for payment, Cummings said, there “were various objections,” such as the “ads didn’t run as ordered”, the wrong ad ran, or the ad didn’t run in the time slot for which it was ordered.
In an effort to get all the outstanding bills paid, Cummings said he reached out to the campaign committee treasurer towards the end of December last year, and that resulted in a payment being received in January. This was also the last payment.
By that time, the campaign committee was dissolved, and efforts continued, in trying to collect the remaining unpaid balance, according to Cummings, who reiterated that “we would like to get paid.”
Meanwhile, South Seas Broadcasting also has a suit in Small Claims Court against 2016 Congressional candidate, Meleagi Chapman, who owes $621 for “unpaid radio ads.” Her case is also scheduled to be heard Sept. 11th.
Cummings said Robert Tuala also handled campaign ads for Chapman and that “Mrs. Chapman has been very responsive and very professional” in dealing with the outstanding debt.
According to court filings, if the defendants — in both cases — do not appear during the set hearing date, the court may award plaintiff the amount found to be due upon plaintiff’s claim and also costs of the action including cost of service of the court order.