CHICAGO (CN) - The former director of an anti-violence nonprofit says Fox News defamed him by telling viewers that he was a former gang member, derailing his campaign for governor.
Tio Hardiman sued Fox TV stations, WFLD News, and Fox news political editor Mike Flannery on Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Hardiman, the former director of CeaseFire Violence Interrupters, won a spot on the March 2014 ballot as a candidate for Illinois Governor. He hoped to become the state's first black governor.
But in January 2014, "Mike Flannery, on behalf of Fox TV stations and WFLD News, stated to a large viewing audience in the State of Illinois, that the plaintiff, a former gang member, made the ballot to run for governor of the State of Illinois.
"The statements were made by the defendants, upon information and belief, in full knowledge that they were untrue or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity, and for the purpose of injuring the plaintiff in his good name and business," the complaint says.
Hardiman claims that Flannery did not investigate the allegation, but made the statement as a "tease" to lure more viewers to watch the news broadcast.
"As a result of the broadcast, the plaintiff has been injured in his reputation both in personal and business capacities, and damaged by the defendants. In addition, the plaintiff lost thousands of votes in the March 2014, primary for governor," the complaint says.
Hardiman seeks $36 million in general and punitive damages for defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress.
He is represented by Alfred Phelps of South Holland, Illinois.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.