Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura reported that he would use the $1.8 million settlement in a defamation lawsuit against a Navy SEAL to pay his lawyers, according to a CBS “This Morning” interview.
The dispute between Ventura and former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle began in 2006 when Kyle claimed he punched Ventura, who allegedly insisted that the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” in Iraq.
The claim was published in Kyle’s book "American Sniper."
"I would have been a big-time loser had I not pursued the lawsuit, because ... the whole story was fabricated," Ventura said. "I was accused of treason, which in the military is the death penalty."
Before Kyle was killed last year at a Texas gun range, he delivered testimony that the story was true. Kyle's widow Taya also insisted that the allegation was true.
When Ventura was granted $1.8 million against the Kyle estate, Taya Kyle was shocked.
Kyle’s widow was “surprised and upset” by the verdict, according to John Borger, an attorney for Kyle’s estate.
When asked what he might do with the money, Ventura responded that he will pay his accumulated attorney fees. Ventura pointed out that he doesn’t have an insurance company paying fees for him, like Kyle’s widow does. Despite the criticism Ventura has received for using the money instead of returning it to Kyle’s widow, Ventura noted that the disapproval doesn’t bother him.
“I incurred two-and-a-half years of lawyer fees that I have to pay to clear my name, and she had insurance paying everything for her,” Ventura said.
Ventura noted that he also has to deal with his reputation, and lamented that he can longer go to a SEAL reunion without looking over his shoulder.
Ventura now plans to visit HarperCollins, who he claims published Kyle's book without due diligence to find out if the story was true or not.