Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who finished a distant third this year in a Republican Senate primary, filed a libel suit Tuesday night against the New York Times and a member of its editorial board, arguing that they had undercut his chances for another run.
In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Arpaio took issue with an opinion piece written after the August GOP primary titled, “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.”
Arpaio is seeking $147.5 million in damages from Michelle Cottle, the author of the piece, and the Times, as well as attorneys’ fees and other costs.
In a statement to news organizations, Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, said: “We intend to vigorously defend against the lawsuit.”
Arpaio contends the piece was “carefully and maliciously calculated to damage and injure” his reputation among the law enforcement community as well as the “Republican establishment and donors” in order to undermine another run for political office.
In the suit, Arpaio, 86, says that he intends to run for the Senate again in 2020 for the seat vacated by the late Republican senator John McCain. Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) is temporarily occupying that seat until a special election takes place.
In this year’s GOP primary to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Arpaio finished third with less than 18 percent of the vote.
Cottle wrote that Arpaio’s “24-year reign of terror was medieval in its brutality” and that his “abuses ranged from the humiliating to the lethal.”
Last year, Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, was convicted on a misdemeanor contempt of court charge for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. President Trump later pardoned him before his scheduled sentencing.
In his lawsuit, Arpaio is represented by Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of the conservative watchdog group Freedom Watch.