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6:22 AM Fri, Jan. 18th

Arpaio files defamation suit against 3 news organizations

In this May 22, 2018, file photo, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a campaign event in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

In this May 22, 2018, file photo, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a campaign event in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

PHOENIX (AP) — Former Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio has filed a defamation lawsuit seeking $300 million against three news organizations, alleging their inaccurate references to his criminal case have hurt his chances at possibly running in 2020 for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John McCain.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Washington alleges that CNN, Huffington Post and Rolling Stone magazine acted with malice when they published statements they knew to be erroneous.

Arpaio claims CNN took no effort to correct a statement by anchor Chris Cuomo during a January broadcast that the lawman was a convicted felon. Arpaio’s 2017 criminal contempt of court conviction for disobeying a judge’s order to stop his immigration patrols was a misdemeanor, not a felony.

A pardon by President Donald Trump spared Arpaio a possible jail sentence. The lawsuit also focuses on a Huffington Post story in November that erroneously said Arpaio had been sent to prison for contempt of court. The lawsuit notes that Rolling Stone had corrected an error in a November story that erroneously said Arpaio was an ex-felon.

But the lawsuit also said anyone who read the incorrect version of the Rolling Stone story still wouldn’t know that it was erroneous to call Arpaio an ex-felon.

As a result of the inaccurate statements, the lawsuit alleges Arpaio has been the subject of ridicule, his reputation has been severely harmed and his chances of raising campaign funds from the Republican establishment for a possible 2020 Senate campaign have been damaged.

He said he has no idea whether he’ll actually get $300 million from the lawsuit, but that the filing sends a message to news organizations that they need to fact-check their stories.

Regardless of whether a news organization apologizes for such an error, Arpaio said he is the one who is left dealing with the incorrect impression of him as a felon.

He served as metro Phoenix’s sheriff for 24 years before he was defeated in 2016 by a little-known retired Phoenix police sergeant.