Former Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio is suing CNN, accusing the cable outlet of inaccurately labeling him a “felon” in a broadcast and having made no efforts to correct its mistake.
Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of a misdemeanor contempt of court last year, not a felony — and was quickly pardoned by President Trump. He has asked the courts to expunge his original misdemeanor conviction, in a case that’s still pending.
In his lawsuit, filed Monday in federal district court in the District of Columbia., Mr. Arpaio also sued Huffington Post and Rolling Stone, which he says also made inaccurate statements about his legal troubles.
Huffington Post reported that he was “sent to prison” for his conviction, but he says he never served a day. He said the article was uncorrected at the time of his lawsuit — though a correction was there as of Monday night, and archived versions showed it had been corrected last month.
Rolling Stone did “silently” change a web story inaccurately labeling him an “ex-felon,” Mr. Arpaio says, but he argued that without alerting readers to the change anyone who read the original piece wouldn’t know of the inaccuracy.
The CNN broadcast remained on the company’s website Monday night, including the section where anchor Chris Cuomo called Mr. Arpaio a “convicted felon.”
A CNN spokeswoman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment, nor did Huffington Post. Rolling Stone couldn’t be reached for comment. The email addresses the company listed for inquiries produced bounced-back messages.
Mr. Arpaio, who lost in the GOP primary race for a U.S. Senate seat from Arizona this year, says in the lawsuit he plans to run again in 2020, and the inaccuracies were an attempt by the “leftist” news outlets to “destroy” his chances.
He said each instance was an act of “malice” — a key hurdle for a defamation lawsuit where a public figure is involved.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendants and their agents’ extreme, outrageous and malicious conduct set forth above, Plaintiff Arpaio has been the subject of widespread ridicule and humiliation and has suffered severe loss of reputation, which has in turn also caused him pain and financial damage,” his lawyer, Larry Klayman, said in the lawsuit.
He is seeking more than $300 million in damages.
Mr. Arpaio lost his bid for re-election in 2016 to another term as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.
Just weeks before the election, the Obama administration’s Justice Department announced it was prosecuting him for contempt of court stemming from a previous judge’s ruling that his department had engaged in racial profiling. Another judge ruled in summer 2017 that the sheriff did, in fact, defy the earlier ruling, holding him in contempt.
That judgment had not been finalized and Mr. Arpaio was asking for reconsideration when Mr. Trump issued the pardon.
Judge Susan Bolton ruled the pardon was legal — but refused Mr. Arpaio’s demand that the original misdemeanor conviction be expunged from his record altogether.
Mr. Arpaio in October sued The New York Times, objecting to a column the paper ran calling him “a truly sadistic man.”