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Tarkanian accuses Rosen of defaming him in campaign ads

Danny Tarkanian filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing newly elected Congresswoman Jacky Rosen of defamation for ads aired in the final weeks of the campaign.

Tarkanian and Rosen squared off in a bitter and tight race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, with Rosen coming out on top by less than two percentage points in the end.

The lawsuit revolves around television and social media ads that surfaced in the final weeks of the election that used Tarkanian’s role as the registered agent for companies that acted as fronts for fraudulent charities. Registered agents typically handle legal paperwork for companies but don’t deal with day-to-day operations very often.

One ad said “seniors lost millions from scams Danny Tarkanian helped set up.”

The lawsuit claims the ads are “nearly identical” to allegations made by Tarkanian’s 2004 state Senate opponent, Democrat Mike Schneider, leading up to the election, which Tarkanian eventually lost.

Tarkanian successfully sued Schneider for defamation over those comments made in ads and in a debate that aired on a local political talk show. Schneider’s insurance company agreed to pay $150,000 to Tarkanian in 2009.

Tarkanian is seeking more than $8 million in damages in the new lawsuit.

“It is unconscionable that someone would run a campaign ad that she knows is defamatory in order to win an election,” Tarkanian said in an email statement. “Well, Rosen must pay a price for her decision to do so. Hopefully this will deter others in the future from completely disregarding the truth when they run TV commercials against their opponents.”

Tarkanian was the registered agent for the company Master Fundraising, meaning he accepted legal documents and notifications from state offices on behalf of the company. The company’s director, Jan Wrobel, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1999 for defrauding elderly victims out of more than $3 million.

His role with that company has been used against him in nearly every political race of his career.

Those ties were used in attack ads against Tarkanian during his 2006 run for Nevada secretary of state, 2012 run for Congress and in this year’s Republican primary election. Tarkanian’s attorney sent cease-and-desist letters to television stations airing the ads in 2012 and in this year’s primary, but the ads were not taken down.

Rosen’s campaign wasn’t the only group to use charities against Tarkanian during this year’s general election, either.

The House Majority PAC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee each aired ads this fall that made similar claims about defrauding senior citizens. Those groups were not named in the lawsuit.

Requests for comment from Rosen and her campaign manager were not returned Thursday.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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