ICYMI: Governor Ducey heads to Vegas to support GOP candidate ensnared in legal controversy

Sine Die will not keep Arizona Governor Doug Ducey from attending campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas.

Governor Ducey looks to mingle with the Wynn’s, as he raises money for Nevada’s Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, a potential gubernatorial candidate involved in a huge controversy over his intervention in a lawsuit on behalf of Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and his largest donor.

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Affidavit: Laxalt contradicted deputy's opinion, tried to persuade gaming chief to help Adelson in lawsuit

BY THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT STAFF - MAY 10TH, 2017 - Megan Messerly, Michelle Rindels, Riley Snyder and Jackie Valley

Attorney General Adam Laxalt sent a series of urgent text messages to Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett to secure a meeting in which he asked the state’s top gaming regulator to intervene in a civil dispute on behalf of billionaire campaign donor Sheldon Adelson, according to an affidavit prepared by Burnett and obtained by The Nevada Independent.

Burnett said he was “shocked and in disbelief” at Laxalt’s actions, which included urging him to have the state assist Adelson in a lawsuit, something one of the attorney general’s deputies already had advised the control board not to do. Burnett was so concerned that he secretly recorded the conversation and later turned the tape over to the FBI after refusing to file a brief in the case that both Laxalt, an unannounced candidate for governor, and Adelson, the attorney general’s largest donor, asked him to provide.

“I believe that if I, or someone in my position as Chairman, had agreed to file such a document before the District Court under the above-described circumstances, the foundation of gaming regulation in Nevada, and the reputation of the state as a whole, would have been harmed,” Burnett said in the affidavit.

The affidavit also lays out Burnett’s unease with a series of broken protocols and his fraying trust in the attorney general’s office, the primary legal counsel for the agency. He was particularly distressed when he learned Laxalt met with Adelson without a control board representative present.

The document obtained by The Nevada Independent details an urgent text-message exchange culminating in Laxalt picking up Burnett at a Reno car dealership in March 2016 for a hastily arranged coffee shop meeting. The conversation was squeezed in just before the gaming regulator left for a weeklong family vacation and shortly before a Nevada Supreme Court hearing that directly affected Adelson’s casino company, Las Vegas Sands.

After consulting with Gaming Control Board staff and independent counsel, Burnett turned the recorded conversation over to the FBI, which ultimately determined no criminal violations occurred.

Because the attorney general is charged under state law to investigate issues involving public officers, Burnett said he decided to involve federal authorities, who appeared to be the “most appropriate” to determine “whether any criminal acts had taken place, such as corruption.” Nevertheless, Burnett said Laxalt’s apparent disregard of a deputy’s opinion on the case involving the powerful Adelson, which directly contradicted the position the attorney general took with the gaming regulator at the coffee shop, and the AG’s “perplexing” requests to file a brief on behalf of the Sands caused him great concern.

Adelson and the Sands are longtime political backers of Laxalt. The billionaire casino owner, his wife, family members and Sands properties reported giving $100,000 to the attorney general’s “Morning in Nevada” PAC since it was established in 2015, and gave $55,000 to his 2014 election campaign.

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