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KFC takes issue with West Virginia political ad

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Kentucky Fried Chicken has asked a political action group to cease using likenesses of its trademarks in campaign material that lampooned a Republican candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Delegate-elect John Kelly of Parkersburg, a Republican who ran in the 10th Delegate District and won, said the admonition to the company Protect West Virginia, which is affiliated with the Democratic Legislation Campaign Committee, was sweet, albeit it came after the election.

“I’m tickled to death with it, just for the fact that they have been called on their dirty tricks,” Kelly said on Wednesday.

Kelly was targeted by Protect West Virginia with mailers. Among the campaign materials was a jockey on a racehorse with Kelly’s head that claimed he’ll send health funds from West Virginia to Kentucky.

The mailer that irked him the most showed an empty wheelchair, again claiming he’ll take health insurance away from West Virginians and send the money to Kentucky at the expense of senior citizens and veterans. Kelly is retired and served in the U.S. Air Force.

It prompted him to send the organization’s “John ‘Kentucky’ Kelly’s Kentucky Fried Senior Plan” mailer, which shows a chicken bucket filled with senior citizens, to the corporate headquarters for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“This flyer makes use in a derogatory and infringing manner of images of trademarks of KFC Corp., including the world-famous KFC bucket and It’s Finger Lickin’ Good,” Sarah Osborn Hill, a lawyer for Kentucky Fried Chicken, said in a letter to Protect West Virginia addressed to Elizabeth Gramling, chief operating officer of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The letter, dated Nov. 7, three days after the election, asks the political organization to quit using KFC trademarks and images.

“Therefore, KFC insists that the Protect West Virginia immediately cease and desist from any further use or distribution of materials containing the KFC trademarks and related images, it if has not already done so and that Protect West Virginia destroy any copies of this brochure remaining in its possession,” Hill said.

A message for comment from Gramling was not immediately returned.

A complaint with the secretary of state over the campaign materials also was filed by Kelly.

Kelly is a Parkersburg city councilman who plans to resign from council effective Nov. 30.

He was in a six-candidate race for three positions in the 10th District, three Republicans and three Democrats. Candidates in the multi-seat districts run against each other. He came in third, a thousand votes more than incumbent Delegate Dan Poling, a Democrat.

The Republicans swept the 10th District with Kelly, Mike Azinger, the son of Delegate Tom Azinger who didn’t run for re-election to the House, and Frank Deem, a former legislator who has served in the Legislature every decade since the 1950s.

The margin of victory over the incumbent Poling shows the campaign tactics backfired, Kelly said.

“I think what they did probably hurt them more than helped them,” Kelly said.

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