Republican Danny Tarkanian hand-delivered a cease and desist letter Monday to the campaign office of his political opponent for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Susie Lee.
In the letter to Lee, Tarkanian’s lawyer, Mark Randazza accused the Lee campaign of “publishing multiple defamatory statements” on social media and elsewhere related to his role in setting up telemarketing companies, which were later convicted of fraud.
In 2009, Tarkanian was awarded $150,000 in damages after his 2004 opponent for state senate Mike Schneider ran ads blasting Tarkanian for setting up the companies. But opponents have continued to raise the issue against Tarkanian in his multiple campaigns ever since. Tarkanian filed a still-unsettled lawsuit against Rep. Jacky Rosen over the issue after she defeated him in the 2016 congressional race.
“There has never been any evidence, whether provided by journalists or produced in court, that Mr. Tarkanian was aware of these illegal activities at any time prior to the arrest of the individuals who were operating the schemes,” wrote attorney Marc Randazza in the cease and desist letter. “It is apparent that you are implying that Mr. Tarkanian was directly involved not just in the formation of companies that later participated in telemarketing schemes, but that Mr. Tarkanian himself was personally involved in setting up these illegal activities and had full knowledge of them at all times. This is blatantly false.”
The cease and desist letter also noted Tarkanian’s issue with the Lee campaign’s claim that he received a “$16 million taxpayer bailout for a failed ‘equestrian destination resort’ in California.”
In response to the letter Brandon Cox, Lee’s campaign manager said the letter was “ a desperate, partisan attempt to muddy the waters by a sore loser and perennial candidate who has run six unsuccessful political campaigns in a row” and that “Nevada voters deserve a real debate about the issues, not publicity stunts and a bogus lawsuit.”
“Danny Tarkanian’s history of helping to set up telemarketing companies that preyed on the elderly is well-documented, as are his suspect business dealings and bailout,” Cox wrote in a statement to the Current. “Furthermore, these concerns about Tarkanian’s record have been raised by Republicans like Senator Dean Heller and State Senator Scott Hammond, neither of whom Tarkanian has sued.”
Tarkanian offered to “waive any claims against” Lee and her campaign if they agree to retract the statements from all online and print media publications, issue a public apology and promise not to repeat the statements in the future.
Tarkanian entered the House race in March, exiting a Republican primary challenge against Sen. Dean Heller following a tweet from Donald Trump suggesting that he do so.