When I first told my father I wanted to run for public office, he said to me, “Why?” He said the way politicians won elections was by raising more money than their opponents so they could broadcast more lies about them. Dad understood what has become of political campaigning.
I decided to run for public office because I believe a person with strong conviction, determination and a will to never quit could make a great impact with their life in public service.
I’ve never worried too much about the lies and personal attacks that I’ve had to endure during my campaigns. Heck, I grew up watching the NCAA and many in the local and national media tell lie after lie about my father. I admired that he never backed down or quit during these relentless attacks.
I understand the viciousness of politics, that a candidate will use political spin to portray their opponent in the worst possible light. However, there is a line that cannot be crossed from political spin to an outright blatant lie.
In 2004, my political opponent, Mike Schneider, crossed that line and stated that I had been involved in criminal conduct. I sued Schneider for defamation and won a unanimous verdict.
This past election, when facing a double-digit deficit in the polls, my opponent, Jacky Rosen, and the Democrat Congressional Committee ran advertisements nearly identical to the defamatory ads that Schneider had run. I sent Rosen a cease and desist letter demanding she take down the ads. She refused. After the election, I sued Rosen for defamation.
This week, the Clark County District Court issued an order denying Rosen’s motion to dismiss the case. In the court hearing, the judge stated he did not believe that the statements Rosen made in her advertisement were true. He noted that her statements were substantially similar to the ones made by Schneider that a jury had already determined were defamatory. He ruled that I had a basis to prove malice and that I had a probability of success at trial.
Most people would perhaps not choose to put themselves through a long and expensive lawsuit like this. It is difficult to win these cases. It is going to be costly in terms of both money and stress. The way I was raised, I don’t have a choice but to fight. I was raised to fight wrongdoing and to never cower, even against insurmountable odds.
Most importantly, is this really what we want our country’s politics to be, electing the candidates who are the biggest liars because they are allowed to get away with it? Shouldn’t we expect more of our public servants?
Now that we’ve survived another election cycle marred by negative campaigning, it’s obvious that someone needs to take a stand to stop this.
This is just the beginning of an arduous journey. I hope when it is over my kids will admire what I have done as much as I admire my father for what he did.
Danny Tarkanian is a longtime Las Vegan and local business and community leader who ran for Congress in 2016.