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Ex-Candidate Alleges Smear by Sheriff Joe

PHOENIX (CN) - Officials in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office launched a smear campaign against a former candidate for sheriff by leaking false information to the press about an alleged rape, according to the contender's lawsuit in county court.

Daniel Saban, former commander of the Mesa Police Department, challenged longtime incumbent Joe Arpaio in the 2004 Republican primary.

Saban claims that Chief Deputy David Hendershott "orchestrated a smear campaign" against him, disseminating false information to reporters to get them to submit records requests to the sheriff's office to divulge rape allegations made by Ruby Norman.

Hendershott allegedly knew that Norman's claims were "unreliable from the very beginning."

According to the complaint, the Sheriff's Command Association and the Arizona Republican Party paid Anthem Media $70,000 for television ads stating that Saban "misled a government agency about allegations of rape" and that "Saban was investigated for exposing himself to a child."

Saban explains that he was investigated by the city of Mesa in 2004 after someone told an "ill-advised joke" at his retirement roast about him exposing himself to a child. But he says the investigation was dropped when the detective and the county attorney "agreed that no crime had been committed."

The commercials damaged his reputation, Saban claims, and caused him to suffer "great emotional harm."

He wants the defendants to pay unspecified damages.

They include Sean McCaffrey, executive director of the Arizona Republican Party; Chris Baker, an Arizona Republican Party liaison; Joel Fox, a founder of the Sheriff's Command Association; Larry Black, a founder of the Sheriff's Command Association; and Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Saban is acting as his own attorney.

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