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Schweikert ally pays $50K to settle lawsuit filed over 2022 campaign lies

A political consultant linked with Congressman David Schweikert’s 2022 reelection bid settled a lawsuit over campaign sexually-charged attacks that suggested his opponent in the Republican primary election was gay.

Elijah Norton, who challenged Schweikert for the GOP nomination that year, filed the lawsuit over campaign materials and social media posts that implied he was gay. That included a mailer with a photo of Norton alongside another man, and the phrase “Elijah Norton Isn’t Being Straight With You.”

Johnathan Huey, who ran a political action committee opposing Norton’s candidacy, also admitted under oath to running a social media account that used sexual innuendo to criticize Norton.

According to court documents, Huey agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the case. 

In a statement, Huey said the allegations were based on lies and designed to damage Norton’s campaign.

“As part of the settlement of outstanding legal issues between myself, the PAC and Mr. Norton, I am hereby acknowledging the attacks were false … these attacks were done to hinder Mr. Norton’s chances prevailing in the Republican primary,” Huey wrote.

Norton, who is now treasurer of the Arizona Republican Party, called the campaign attacks “vile and disgusting.”  

He said he hopes the settlement prevents similar smear campaigns in the future. 

“The takeaway from this and my hope is going forward people will realize you can’t just make things up, you can’t just throw smut at the wall without any truth or foundation to it,” Norton said.

Schweikert’s campaign was initially named in the lawsuit, but the parties reached a settlement in late 2023. The Schweikert campaign declined to comment on the Huey settlement.

“Not our lawsuit,” said Chris Baker, a Schweikert campaign official.

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.