Dan Saban, former candidate for sheriff of Maricopa County, has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Republican Party and those involved with the shady SCA, a.k.a. Sheriff's Command Association.
It could be argued that the public was -- and continues to be -- damaged by the antics of the SCA and Republican Party. The SCA skulked around like a roof rat, collecting big money from shadowy donors before writing checks to the Party that were apparently used to fund smear ads against Saban and Tim Nelson, the former candidate for county attorney. Rather than let the public know who was doing the funding, SCA frontman Joel Fox kept the donors' names secret until threatened with a $315,000 fine.
Saban, though, felt the direct impact of the alleged scheme. The PG-13-rated television commercial, which was pulled from the airwaves a day after it first aired, may have single-handedly ruined the career cop's chances at beating Arpaio.
Now Saban is seeking unspecified damages for "economic losses," as well as damages designed to teach the SCA and Republican Party a lesson.
Named in the lawsuit, filed last week in Superior Court, are:
*Sean McCaffrey, former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. McCaffery was the treasurer of the Arizonans for Public Safety, the political committee formed just after the SCA made it first contribution to the Party. The address for the committee was the same as the Republican Party.
*Chris Baker, the political consultant who apparently served as a liaison between the SCA and the Republican Party. Baker later worked for the Arizonans for Public Safety, but supposedly not on the Saban smear ad.
*David Hendershott, the chief deputy of the sheriff's office. According to Saban's lawsuit, Hendershott was behind the original digging-up of dirt on Saban in 2004 -- dirt that was used later for the ad. The New Times' Paul Rubin covered the 2004 smear thoroughly in articles here and here.
*Joel Fox, the SCA treasurer by default. When Fox received checks for the SCA from corporations, including one that read "Vote for Sheriff Joe Arpaio" in the memo field, Fox signed the backs and deposited them in the bank. Fox then donated that same money to the Republican Party, three months before the 2008 election.
*Larry Black, a civilian employee for the sheriff's office who was "one of the founders" of the SCA, according to Saban's lawsuit. As we've noted previously, Black bought a domain name entitled "sheriffcommand.com," launched two political committees with Joel Fox and was reportedly in attendance at a meeting about the SCA with Fox and Chris Baker.
*Randy Pullen, the chairman of the state Republican Party. Pullen wrote in a letter to election officials that he tried repeatedly to get the SCA to cough up the names of donors. Even though he never got the names, Pullen took the SCA money for the Party.
*The Arizona Republican Party.
*The Sheriff's Command Association (SCA).
*Arizonans for Public Safety.
*Anthem Media, the Texas firm that took $70,000 to "publish" the TV ad.
"This is the second time around they've gone to all extremes to abuse their authority to try and take me out," Saban says. "We were a huge threat to them."
In 2004, Saban claims (and as the above-linked stories detail), Hendershott "orchestrated" a smear campaign against him. Hendershott had received a call from Saban's adoptive mother, a woman with a history of mental problems who claimed Saban had raped her when he was 15. The story didn't pan out, but Hendershott peddled it and other dubious claims about Saban to the media, which found the claims unworthy of publication, the lawsuit states.
Oddly, Saban's claim states that "no news source" picked up the dirt in 2004. But as we know, former Channel 15 (KNXV-TV) reporter Rob Koebel aired the story. He was later fired after it was revealed that he'd donated to Arpaio's re-election campaign by attending a fundraising dinner.
Saban lost the 2004 Republican primary election to Arpaio and later filed a defamation lawsuit against the sheriff -- which he also lost. In 2008, Saban ran as a Democrat against Arpaio and was trounced again.
Saban's attorney, Joel Robbins, was unavailable for comment on Friday evening.
Whether or not Saban will find any satisfaction from a second defamation lawsuit, we're hopeful the "discovery" part of the lawsuit process may shed more light on what really happened.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.