LAS VEGAS — A Nevada Republican who narrowly lost the most expensive congressional race in the nation is suing the Democrat who won, seeking millions of dollars for television and internet advertisements that he says were defamatory.
Danny Tarkanian said Friday he’s not contesting Jacky Rosen’s 47 percent to 46 percent win in the Nov. 8 election — although the lawsuit, filed Thursday in state court in Las Vegas, refers to the loss of the election as one of the injuries he claims.
“I certainly believe the dishonest character assassination in ads by my opponent hurt me with the voters,” Tarkanian said in an interview.
The lawsuit instead seeks more than $8 million in damages, accusing the 3rd District congresswoman-elect of libel and slander.
Tarkanian said in a statement that he hoped the lawsuit “will deter others in the future from completely disregarding the truth when they run TV commercials against their opponents.”
Rosen’s campaign chief, David Furr, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Rosen knew of a 2009 Clark County District Court jury verdict and a settlement that won Tarkanian $150,000 from a Democratic state senator who defeated Tarkanian in 2004 after using what Tarkanian called “nearly identical statements.”
One Rosen ad during the final days of the campaign accused Tarkanian of helping to set up “scams” that cost senior citizens millions of dollars.
Another accused Tarkanian of setting up “fronts for telemarketing schemes” that “preyed on vulnerable seniors.”
The claims against Tarkanian, a lawyer, stem from his work as a registered agent accepting legal documents and notifications for a telemarketing company headed by a man who was sentenced to prison in 1999 for defrauding elderly victims.
A state Democratic party official, Stewart Boss, said similar campaign ads didn’t draw legal challenges from Tarkanian after races that he lost for various offices in 2006 and 2012 — and during the GOP primary that he won earlier this year.
The state and national Democratic party were not named by Tarkanian as defendants in the Rosen lawsuit.
Spending reports showed that more than $17 million was spent in the race to replace three-term Republican Rep. Joe Heck, who gave up his seat in Congress in an unsuccessful bid to win the seat being vacated by Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.
Tarkanian is the son of the late Hall of Fame basketball coach and UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian. Rosen is a former computer software developer and Jewish synagogue president.