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Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio files libel suit against NYT

© Matt York/AP Photo U.S. Senatorial candidate and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio rides on his campaign bus Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, in Phoenix. Arpaio's Senate run will likely be the former sheriff's last political act, as he is expected to finish well outside the running in the GOP Senate primary. (AP Photo/Matt York)

By Quint Forgey, POLITICO

Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, has filed a libel suit against The New York Times and a member of its editorial board.

In a complaint filed Tuesday evening with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the ex-lawman takes issue with a Times opinion piece published just after Arpaio’s loss in the state’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate. The article — “Well, at Least Sheriff Joe Isn’t Going to Congress: Arpaio’s loss in Arizona’s Senate Republican primary is a fitting end to the public life of a truly sadistic man" — was written by Michelle Cottle.

Arpaio argues in the court filing that “[w]hile the Defamatory Article is strategically titled as an opinion piece, it contains several false, defamatory factual assertions.” The claims made in the article, Arpaio says, were “carefully and maliciously calculated to damage and injure” his reputation among the law enforcement community, as well as among GOP donors who could help bankroll his intended run for the late Sen. John McCain’s seat in 2020, currently held by Sen. Jon Kyl.

Arpaio is seeking $147.5 million in damages from Cottle and The Times, as well as payment to cover his attorneys’ fees and costs. He is represented by Larry Klayman, the chairman and general counsel of the conservative watchdog group Freedom Watch.

Before running for the Senate, Arpaio was in the spotlight for his strong anti-immigration stance, as well as allegations of professional misconduct. He was convicted of contempt of court in July 2017 but was pardoned by President Donald Trump the following month.

An attorney for The Times was not immediately available for comment.

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