Lawsuit alleging defamation in ’04 campaign goes to trial

Lawsuit alleging defamation in ’04 campaign goes to trial

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, NV)
July 29, 2009


Voters picked the winner in the state Senate race between Mike
Schneider and Danny Tarkanian back in 2004. Now, five years later, the
ensuing legal fight spawned from the nasty campaign will be decided by
a jury.

Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary former UNLV men’s basketball coach
Jerry Tarkanian, sued Schneider after he lost the race. He alleges
Schneider, D-Las Vegas, defamed and libeled him during the campaign by
accusing him of creating companies to defraud the elderly, among other

Both men appeared in District Court on Tuesday for the opening of the
trial, which is expected to last about a week.

Schneider, the incumbent, won the 2004 District 11 race against
Tarkanian, who ran as a Republican in a heavily Democratic Las Vegas

Schneider’s attorney, Nelson Cohen, said the lawsuit is merely "sour
grapes" from a candidate upset over losing.

Gus Flangas, Tarkanian’s attorney, told the jury that Schneider’s
campaign went beyond standard rhetoric when it linked his client to
criminal activity.

Schneider, who testified for more than an hour and half Tuesday, said
he relied on campaign staff and a private investigator, David Groover,
for information to be used against Tarkanian.

Schneider said he approved only three of the four campaign fliers that
his campaign mailed and often saw them for the first time when they
were delivered to his mailbox.

But he stood by the accusations made in the fliers.

During his testimony, Schneider answered many questions with a
"correct" or "no." He was the first witness in the case and was called
to take the stand by Tarkanian’s attorney.

Schneider said it’s common for state Senate candidates to hire
campaign staff to do opposition research. At one point, Schneider told
the jury he didn’t need hard evidence to make an accusation.

In campaign fliers and on a news show, Schneider blasted Tarkanian,
saying he acted as the resident agent for several companies that later
were investigated for illegal telemarketing scams that victimized the
elderly, Flangas said.

Schneider also suggested that Tarkanian turned "state’s evidence" to
save himself in a criminal investigation.

Flangas said all of the accusations were blatantly false, as were the
accusations by Schneider that Tarkanian socialized with illegal
bookmakers and that the state bar suspended his law license.

Tarkanian was a registered agent for several telemarketing companies
that were indicted on fraud charges, but he said in later interviews
that he was merely an attorney who did legal work on behalf of the
companies and knew nothing of the fraud.

Tarkanian’s mother, Lois, is a Las Vegas city councilwoman.

He ran for secretary of state in 2006 but lost to Democrat Ross
Miller. Many of the same accusations surfaced during the 2006
campaign, but Tarkanian didn’t sue Miller.

Contact reporter David Kihara at [email protected] or