The Sonoran News, a small Cave Creek weekly newspaper, now has something in common with the National Enquirer and a world famous crime reporter: Former congressman Gary Condit has sued them for defamation.
Condit, who owns a home in Phoenix, sued the 30,000-circulation publication on July 14, alleging that it permanently harmed his reputation when it published a story that referred to his involvement with Chandra Levy.
Levy was a Bureau of Prisons intern whose body was found in a Washington, D.C., park about a year after her May 2001 disappearance.
“How could a newspaper in Cave Creek, Arizona, printing a statement that’s been printed thousands of places all over the country and all over the world — what additional harm could they inflict on Gary Condit even if it was ultimately false?” said attorney Dan Barr, who represents the Sonoran News.
Barr also is the Tribune’s lawyer.
The statement that Condit calls libelous ran July 2005 in a story about Condit’s younger brother, Darrell Condit, who was living in Cave Creek.
“Darrell Wayne Condit is the younger brother of Democratic Congressman Gary Condit, who became the main focus in the Chandra Levy case in 2001, after lying to investigators about his affair with Levy,” the Sonoran News story reads.
Condit’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Officer Joshua Aldiva, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the Levy investigation. Associated Press reports say police never considered Condit a suspect, but there were allegations he was not forthcoming with authorities about his relationship with Levy.
Condit, who is married, eventually told police about a romance with the intern.
Condit lost his re-election bid in his Democratic primary in March 2002, after having represented the Modesto, Calif., area for 13 years.
Barr said that because Condit is a public figure, he’ll have to prove the Sonoran News story was published with actual malice and that the paper knew it was false.
Condit settled a lawsuit in March 2005 against Vanity Fair crime reporter Dominick Dunne. And Condit settled with the National Enquirer, Star and Globe tabloids in August 2004.