September 19, 2014
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Republican Rep. Dean Heller's use of the Broadway classic "Big Spender" in Nevada radio and television ads criticizing his Democratic opponent, Jill Derby, has resulted in a lawsuit filed against him by the estate of the music's composer, Cy Coleman.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by the estate, through its Notable Music Co., naming Heller and his media firm, Texas-based Weeks & Co. LLP. That followed a letter from the estate asking Heller to stop using the song in his advertisements.
Coleman's widow, Shelby Coleman, says the estate turned down a request to use "Big Spender" as background music in the ads critical of travel expenses by Derby during her 18 years as a state university-college system regent, but the ads were produced anyway.
Heller spokesman Stewart Bybee has said the song is "an obvious parody," and there's "no rational likelihood that any reasonable person would mistake it for the original song or lyrics."
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