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Adam Laxalt Faces Criticism, Questions After Voting Against Pardon for Innocent Man

After spending more than two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Fred Steese was declared an innocent man this week. The Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners voted almost unanimously to pardon him — the only person to vote ‘no’ was Attorney General and GOP candidate for Governor Adam Laxalt.

ProPublica/Vanity Fair: Nevada Pardons Wrongfully Convicted Man Featured in Our Story

When Steese’s case came up for a vote, each justice of the Supreme Court voted ‘yes’ without hesitation. Then came attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt. For most of the day he had voted “no” on pardons. In this case he asked to abstain. When the governor wouldn’t allow it, Laxalt paused and then leaned into his microphone and voted ‘no.’

It didn’t matter. Steese simply needed a majority and the governor’s vote. Sandoval voted yes and Steese’s pardon was granted.

The reaction to Laxalt’s disturbing and unexplained ‘no’ vote has been overwhelmingly negative:

@SteveSebelius: I, for one, am disappointed that AG @AdamLaxalt did not articulate on the record his reasons for voting against a pardon for a man who was actually innocent of the crime.

@RalstonReports: This case is an embarrassment to the state and has been highlighted nationally. AG @adamlaxalt actually asked to abstain (!), then voted against pardoning an obviously innocent man. Wow.

@RalstonReports: [email protected] needs to answer two questions:
1. Why did you vote against a pardon for an obviously innocent man?
2. What in the world would make you think you could abstain? Abstain on a pardon?

@MichelleRindels: Man who was convicted of a Vegas Strip performer’s death and spent 21 years in prison, then exonerated to the point that a Vegas judge issued rare Order of Actual Innocence, clears his name. Gov and full Supreme Court voted for pardon yesterday, Laxalt opposed.

@SandraChereb: More disturbing is why state’s top law enforcer would vote “no” to exonerate an innocent man.

@OyVegas: Wow. The entire Board of Pardons except the Attorney General just gave an unconditional pardon to this innocent man. AG Laxalt tried to abstain, but then some NO vote. No reason given. Innocence irrefutable. Wow. As governor, he would head this board. Wow.

@sleslienv: Want to know what kind of Governor @AdamLaxalt will be?  Read this appalling story.

@bobfulkerson: @AdamLaxalt first sheepishly asked to abstain, then voted to keep an innocent man in prison. He is unfit for public service.