Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio Claims Three Publications Did $300 Million In Damage To His Pristine Reputation
from the exponential-thinking dept
Former sheriff (and ongoing blight on the state of Arizona) Joe Arpaio has decided to sue a handful of new agencies for defamation. The slightly-overwrought press release from FreedomWatch (and founder Larry Klayman) alleges defamation per se on the part of CNN, the Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone and claims these three publications caused $300.5 million in damage to Arpaio’s otherwise impeccable reputation.
“It’s time that someone stood up to the Left’s ‘Fake News’ media, which is bent on destroying anyone who is a supporter of the president and in particular Sheriff Arpaio. My client will not be bullied by the likes of Jeff Zucker, Chris Cuomo, the Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone, as he alone has the courage to stand up for not just himself, the President of the United States but also all fair-minded and ethical Americans.”
Ok, then. If you think the lawsuit itself is a much more buttoned-down affair, then you haven’t read a Larry Klayman complaint before. It starts with the usual stuff establishing standing before getting down to the focus of the complaint. The alleged defamation committed by all three defendants is referring to Joe Arpaio as a “convicted felon” when his only conviction was for a misdemeanor. Rolling Stone issued a correction but the other two defendants haven’t corrected their original misstatements. Hence the lawsuit — Arpaio and Klayman’s public attempt to stick it to the “Left Fake News media.”
Here’s why Arpaio feels he’s owed $300 million for a couple of standing misstatements. Running for an open US Senate seat must pay really well.
Plaintiff Arpaio’s chances and prospects of election to the U.S. Senate in 2020 have been severely harmed by the publication of false and fraudulent facts in the Defamatory Article. This also harms Plaintiff financially, as his chances of obtaining funding from the Republican establishment and donors for the 2020 election have been damaged by the publication of false and fraudulent representations in the Defamatory Article.
Given the pardon issued to him by the Republican president currently in office, it seems unlikely his reputation suffered any damage from these incorrect statements. If anything, it only further damaged the reputation of these publications, at least in the eyes of Arpaio supporters (which presumably includes a sizeable percentage of Republican voters).
Arpaio managed to survive hundreds of self-inflicted reputational wounds during his years as sheriff, so it’s a bit of a stretch to claim three “fake news” sources have done anything more than further cement his reputation as a martyr to the cause.
Arpaio also claims this has damaged his reputation within the law enforcement community. Again, it seems unlikely to have budged the needle there either. Law enforcement agencies tend to view the press with the same suspicion Arpaio does and probably agree the ex-sheriff was persecuted rather than prosecuted.
Nevertheless, there’s potential money to be made. And Klayman, representing Arpaio, isn’t above using a federal lawsuit as soapbox. At times, the complaint [PDF] more resembles a transcript of a YouTube monologue than a statement of facts and allegations.
Defendants are aware of these prospective business relationships and thus, given their malice and leftist enmity of Arpaio sought to destroy them with the publication of the subject Defamatory Publications.
Defendants published the Defamatory Publications 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.
Plaintiff Arpaio has been harmed as to his reputation as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and financially by the publication of the Defamatory Article.
[insert fire emoji]
While it’s true publications got the facts wrong, Joe Arpaio is an extremely public person. This raises the bar he must meet to succeed in this lawsuit. While the publications may have been careless in incorrectly noting the level of the offense that Arpaio was convicted for, that’s not nearly enough to secure a favorable ruling.
The difference between convicted felon and convicted misdemeanant probably doesn’t mean much when placed in the totality of Arpaio’s recent history. Arpaio was convicted of contempt and spent part of the last decade being investigated by the DOJ. Add this to his long history of civil liberties violations and refusal to adhere to court orders, and the difference between a felony conviction and a misdemeanor is a rounding error.
Arpaio’s reputation has been leaking hit points for a long time, but it has never affected his popularity with his presumed voter base. The rest of America may hate “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but his supporters can’t get enough of him. Three mistakes by three publications is unlikely to have caused $300-worth of damage to the ex-sheriff’s Senatorial chances, much less $300 million. Some people are just defamation-proof and it’s a good bet Joseph Arpaio is one of them.
Arpaio’s welcome to waste the court’s time and his own money claiming the “fake news” media dinged his rust bucket of a reputation, but he’s not going to be happy when the court apprises him of the above facts. The problem is these three publications will have to spend some money of their own defending against a seriously weak lawsuit. With the DC circuit having decided it doesn’t need to apply the District’s own anti-SLAPP law to federal cases, it’s likely the defendants will be stuck with covering their own costs, even if they prevail. On top of that they’ll have to deal with an opposing counsel with a penchant for pissing off judges and treating the courtroom like a heated Periscope broadcast. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and money but Klayman’s. I’m pretty sure he didn’t take this on contingency.