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Sunday, June 29, 2008
Ruddy Embroiled in Benefactor's Will Dispute
Topic: Newsmax

A June 24 New York Times article reported on a battle over a bequest in the will of the late Wilson C. Lucom, a wealthy conservative bon vivant who co-founded Accuracy in Media and contributed writings to Newsmax who died in 2006. It seems that Lucom, who was reportedly not especially fond of children during his lifetime, left the bulk of his multimillion-dollar estate to fund the creation of a foundation to aid poor children in Panama, where he spent his final years (while leaving only relatively paltry amounts to his widow and stepchildren). But look who's playing a not-insignificant role in this dispute -- Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy (h/t Sadly, No!):

Lucom also willed $1 million to the Mayo Clinic, which had treated him for cancer. The clinic, in Minnesota, has hired a lawyer to ensure that it gets the money. Other amounts went to former household employees and to friends, including Christopher Ruddy, founder of NewsMax Media, which published many of Lucom's writings online. Ruddy, who owed Lucom more than $1 million at the time of his death, has hired lawyers to represent his interests.


Just days before Lucom died, on June 2, 2006, [Lucom lawyer Richard] Lehman created a trust to administer the children's charity fund. He created it in St. Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean tax haven where Lucom had gained citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

To create the trust, Lehman and Ruddy used the power of attorney that Lucom had issued to them in case he became incapacitated. But Lucom was still coherent at the time, according to some of those who saw him in the hospital, and the two men acted before they had obtained the necessary letters from doctors saying that Lucom could not make such decisions for himself.

Once the legal battle began, Lehman removed both Ruddy and Hilda Lucom as trustees of the trust, leaving only himself to decide how Wilson Lucom's money would be spent.

Despite Ruddy owing that much money to the man, Lucom appears nowhere in the 2002 prospectus Newsmax filed in preparation for a planned IPO (which never took place).

Lucom's writings seem to have curiously disappeared from Newsmax's archive -- as The Dark Window notes, "Part of the beauty of Lucom's columns is how personal they all are. It's always YOU that will die" -- but through the magic of the Internet Archinve, we can review some of his greatest hits:

  • In a column written shortly after 9/11, Lucom declared: "President Bush must immediately drop the neutron bomb, ending the terrorist war immediately." On who? On "all nations that harbor terrorists."
  • Lucom loved the idea of going nuclear. He wrote in a 2002 column about the idea of going to war with Iraq: "Because thousands of soldiers could get killed fighting the war, all alternatives must be tried to end the war as soon as possible. The longer the war, the more American soldiers killed. This is why Bush must end the war as quickly as possible by threatening to drop the atom bomb." 
  • But bombing was only part of the Lucom Plan. The other part: "raise its presently ineffective offer of $25 million to an amount of ONE BILLION DOLLARS (which would work) for the removal from office of any leader who starts a war or who appears to be developing nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction." 
  • He insisted that "President Clinton and the Democratic members of Congress in 1995 could have prevented the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon." 

Ruddy was indeed quite fond of Lucom. He was a star in Newsmax's abortive 2001 TV show -- er, informericial (which lasted for only one episode). He signed on to Lucom's billion-dollar bounty idea: "Why don’t we, as Wilson Lucom implores, offer $1 billion for Saddam Hussein or bin Laden – dead or alive. Already the State Department offers such bounties, but the reward money is in the tens of millions – not the sort of money that would motivate individuals in foreign countries to risk their lives." Ruddy even went to Panama in November 2002 to chat with "my friend Wilson C. Lucom."

Needless to say, none of the Lucom will controversy -- including Ruddy's role in it and his indebtedness to the Lucom estate -- has made its way to Newsmax readers.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EDT

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