While Oro Valley Councilman Mike Zinkin has dropped a claim against one resident in a lawsuit he filed after last year’s attempted recall, he has kept the lawsuit against resident Don Cox.
Zinkin filed a lawsuit against a political action committee that earlier this year attempted to recall him from office after allegations surfaced of unethical behavior including sexual harassment, racism, and intimidation.
The committee, known as the Oro Valley Citizens for Ethical Government (OVCEG), was unsuccessful in collecting the 2,000 signatures needed to remove the first-term councilman before the petition deadline of Feb. 11, and now Zinkin is firing back by claiming the tactics used during the recall efforts were libelous in nature.
In his formal legal complaint – issued the same day the recall failed – Zinkin targeted two individuals; Kevin Jones, the chairman of OVCEG, and Cox, who Zinkin presumes to be the online administrator of Orovalleytruth.org, a blog site that advocated for the recall.
While the case against Jones has been dropped, the case against Cox remains alive, despite the fact Cox has issued a statement to his attorney that he is merely a contributor to the site and not its administrator.
The lawsuit revolves specifically around written remarks that were made during the recall effort in which the OCVEG highlighted allegations against Zinkin that he had made inappropriate comments in the workplace, both sexist and racist in nature.
The petition itself stated there were grounds for recall based on “Unethical behavior and conduct unbecoming on the part of a councilmember in Oro Valley. Ethical and moral violations include but are not limited to: sexual harassment, racism, and intimidation to Town of Oro Valley employees and members of the public, as well as actions jeopardizing the health, safety, and welfare of Oro Valley residents, resulting in compromised public safety.”
With such allegations circulating, an investigation was launched earlier this year by Phoenix law firm Squire Sanders, the findings of which stated, “There is ample corroboration that (Zinkin) has made at least several inappropriate comments of a sexual nature or regarding persons of Mexican national origin that have troubled town employees and possibly third parties as well.”
Zinkin has in the past stated he meant no offense by such comments, and since apologized. But in his complaint, Zinkin claims that Cox not only publically misrepresented him with false portrayals, he also acted in reckless disregard, thereby damaging his reputation and integrity.
Cox said he stands by his comments, and believes the lawsuit is personal.
“He has a personal vendetta against me,” said Cox. “There’s no other basis for this lawsuit other than a personal attack. I have nothing to defend. The greatest defense I have is the truth, based upon all the documents that are available for anyone in the world to see. I have said nothing that isn’t true, and nothing that I don’t know to be anything but fact.”
Cox also called the lawsuit “ludicrous,” but said he wasn’t entirely caught off guard by it.
“Am I surprised? From a man with that type of integrity, no,” said Cox. “What he’s asking in this lawsuit – it’s almost criminal that you can use the justice system to do what he’s trying to do.”
When asked, Zinkin said he has “absolutely no comment on the lawsuit.” The amount of compensation Zinkin is seeking is unknown.
There is no trial date set at this time, and Zinkin has not specified the damages he is seeking.