Fort Mohave business owners Mark and Qun Collins filed a lawsuit against Mohave County Sheriff’s Candidate Cori Merryman, after members of Merryman’s campaign staff allegedly posted false or defaming statements about them online.
According to Qun Collins, the lawsuit stems from posts made by Alicia Hartwig, a volunteer for Merryman’s campaign. after Qun Collins voiced her support for another candidate in the race for Sheriff. Collins said that when a campaign advertisement for Merryman appeared on the Facebook business page of Fort Mohave Dental, she posted a comment regarding her concerns about Merryman’s character.
Hartwig allegedly copied a photo from Fort Mohave Dental’s Facebook page and used it to imply that Qun’s partner, Mark Collins, was a sexist. Since then, Qun said, Fort Mohave Dental has received calls and messages from supporters of Merryman, to the extent of harassment. The business itself has received negative reviews on its Facebook page since the initial posts were made, by people who have never been customers of Fort Mohave Dental.
Hartwig’s Facebook profile indicated at the time of the complaint that Hartwig was “D1 Director to elect Constitutional, Cori Merryman for Mohave County Sheriff.” As a representative of Merryman’s campaign, Qun Collins said, Merryman is equally liable for potentially libelous content posted by Hartwig.
According to Merryman, Collins is mistaken as to Hartwig’s position on Merryman’s campaign staff. Merryman said that Hartwig is not her campaign manager, but a volunteer on Merryman’s campaign.
Merryman also said that Collins’s contention extends further than any statements given by Hartwig. As a Mohave County Sheriff’s Deputy, Merryman arrested Mark Collins seven years ago on charges of assault, at the behest of her superiors. Collins was ultimately found “not guilty,” but Merryman believes that Collins has held a grudge.
“He’s been blasting me on Facebook, accusing me of making a false arrest,” Merryman said. “It’s not something he took up with me or my supervisor back then. It’s strange that he’s bringing it up now, after I’ve received endorsements from two mayors for my campaign.”
Merryman said she believes Collins’s lawsuit to be an attempt, backed by Merryman’s opponents, to discredit her prior to the election.
“They started this,” Merryman said. “If anything, I should be the one suing them. This is a frivolous lawsuit – a scare tactic used by campaigns that are failing.”
In reference to harassing phone calls made toward Qun and Mark Collins, Merryman says that she would never direct one of her staff or volunteers to take negative action against someone else. “If they are getting harassing phone calls, I discourage that type of behavior,” Merryman said.