Joe Arpaio Hits New York Times with $147.5 Million Lawsuit


After coming up short in his bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, former Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio is blaming a member of The New York Times editorial board, among others. The newspaper has voiced its determination to “vigorously defend” itself against the claims.

In a new lawsuit, the ex-sheriff claims he deserves a nine-figure judgment for allegedly defamatory claims made in Michelle Cottle’s opinion article, which was published in August.

A court filing published by Politico reveals that Arpaio intends to launch another Senate bid ahead of a 2020 election to replace Republican John Kyl, who is serving through the remainder of John McCain’s term.

“While the Defamatory Article is strategically titled as an opinion piece, it contains several false, defamatory factual assertions concerning Plaintiff Arpaio,” the lawsuit claims.

“These false factual assertions are carefully and maliciously calculated to damage and injure Plaintiff Arpaio both in the law enforcement community – which is centered in this judicial district – as well as with Republican establishment and donors, which is also centered in this judicial district, in order to prevent him from successfully run for U.S. Senate in 2020 or another public office as a Republican.”

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Freedom Watch General Counsel Larry Klayman went on to cite specific portions of Cottle’s piece as “false and defamatory factual representations and statements” about his client.

“His 24-year reign of terror was medieval in its brutality,” the editorial read. “In addition to conducting racial profiling on a mass scale and terrorizing immigrant neighborhoods with gratuitous raids and traffic stops and detentions, he oversaw a jail where mistreatment of inmates was the stuff of legend.”

Cottle went on to describe allegations and reports of abuses by Arpaio’s deputies.

“From 2005 through 2007, the sheriff and his deputies failed to properly investigate, or in some cases to investigate at all, more than 400 sex-crime cases, including those involving the rape of young children.”

Do you think Arpaio has a legitimate case against The Times?

The court document alleges the article “further publically (sic) places Plaintiff in a false light that is offensive to any reasonable person using false statements, representations, or imputations.”

It was unclear which portions Arpaio deemed factually incorrect, but the lawsuit claims Cottle attempted to “portray Plaintiff Arpaio in a false light.”

Klayman cited another passage in which Cottle shared her thoughts about a contempt of court conviction erased from Arpaio’s record through a presidential pardon.

She wrote that the former sheriff, who she alleged “robustly devoted himself to terrorizing immigrants,” would have “lived out his twilight years with a well-deserved criminal record if President Trump, a staunch admirer of Mr. Arpaio’s bare-knuckle approach to law enforcement, had not granted him a pardon.”

Arpaio’s suit claims Cottle included “false and fraudulent statements including outright lies in the form of false or misleading facts or false and misleading mixed opinion and fact,” arguing it harmed his “reputation and caused him financial damage.”

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Among the specific damages alleged in the suit is a loss of political funding.

“Defendants published the Defamatory Article to influence the RNC, the RNCC and affiliated political action committee and persons, and other donors, to withhold funding for Plaintiff Arpaio’s 2020 political campaign by smearing and destroying his reputation and standing in his law enforcement, government and political community,” the document claims.

Politico reports Arpaio hopes to be awarded damages totaling $147.5 million in addition to court and attorneys’ fees.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the paper intends “to vigorously defend against the lawsuit.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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