A controversial new television advertisement accusing Democratic candidate for sheriff Dan Saban of sexual misconduct will stop airing tonight after Saban blasted it as unfair and misleading.
Meanwhile, Saban released documents Thursday that he said show a pattern of harassment against him and his family by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office. The harassment began four years ago, when Saban challenged Arpaio in the Republican primary, Saban said. The documents he released list a series of investigations conducted by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office into Saban's background, as well as instances in which the sheriff's office has planted unfavorable stories about Saban in the media.
The television ad that sparked Saban's latest round of accusations against Arpaio was paid for by the Arizona Republican Party and an independent expenditure group, Arizonans for Public Safety. Both groups are headed by Randy Pullen, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Airtime for the ad had been paid for through the weekend, said Sean R. McCaffrey, the executive director of the state Republican Party. But the decision was made to pull it off the airwaves several days early, he said.
McCaffrey said the ad will continue running through today.
The 30-second spot that first aired Tuesday accused Saban of misleading investigators in a rape case, exposing himself to a child and masturbating while on duty.
Saban flatly denied the allegations made in the commercial. He also accused Arpaio of pushing the state GOP into running the ad, even though the sheriff's office has denied having any role.
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a liar and a coward," Saban said. "It obvious that Arpaio's fingerprints were all over these ads."
Both Dave Hendershott, Arpaio's top assistant at the sheriff's office, and officials with the Republican Party have strongly denied the sheriff had any influence or involvement in the making of the political commercial.
The assertions in the ad are based on a deposition Saban gave during a lawsuit in which he was suing the sheriff's office and a local television station for defamation of character, according to McCaffrey.
"The ads were meant to show who Saban really is," McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey added the party obtained the depositions though a public records request with the sheriff's office in August. The GOP felt, he said, the media was ignoring the story and decided to get it out.
The specific allegations in the ad are that:
Saban misled government investigators in a rape case. The government investigators were sheriff's detectives looking into 30-year-old allegations that Saban raped his adopted mother. The investigation was launched by Arpaio's office in 2004, several months before Saban was to face Arpaio in the Republican primary. The case was later turned over to an outside police agency, and no charges were ever filed.
Saban said he was molested as a juvenile by his adopted mother and that he never misled investigators from the sheriff's office when he was questioned 30 years later. The state agency that certifies peace officers looked into the allegations and concluded he had not made any misleading statements.
"The sheriff knows that I'm a victim of child abuse," Saban said at a news conference denouncing the Republican ad.
Saban exposed himself to a child. That allegation is rooted in an off-color joke told by a co-worker at the Mesa Police Department during Saban's retirement roast in February 2004. The statement was subsequently investigated by Mesa police. No charge or disciplinary action was ever brought.
Saban denied he ever exposed himself to a child. He said the statement in the ad "twisted the facts."
Saban masturbated while on duty. Saban did admit to masturbating while in uniform more than 30 years ago when he was working for the sheriff's office. However, he said it was at his home and during a lunch break.
"I had an indiscretion more that 30 years ago in my own home," he said.
The deposition came in a civil case brought by Saban accusing Arpaio of abusing his office by launching an investigation into the 30-year-old charges of rape, and of defamation for leaking the case to the media.
Saban ultimately lost.
During a news conference Thursday, Saban campaign organizers said the charges in the Republican ad are a continuation of a pattern of harassment and distortion that has dragged on since he challenged Arpaio in the 2004 election. Gerald Richard, who ran unsuccessfully this year for the Democratic nomination for county attorney, accused the sheriff's office of secretly promoting the information that ended up in the television ad. He said he was encouraged by Hendershott in July to request the Saban deposition.
Hendershott said he told Richard about the legal documents because he was a friend.
"I expressed my grave concern that he would in any way associate himself with someone like Dan Saban," Hendershott told the Tribune. "I told Gerald to get the facts because they have been so covered up and ignored by the media."