Attorney General Adam Laxalt can’t be pleased to see yet another major story this year questioning his unethical behavior, this time on today’s front page of the Reno Gazette-Journal. After trying to abstain from a controversial pardon vote and then failing to explain his decision, Laxalt was caught on tape trying to mix his political campaign with his official staff to try to contain the damage.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt sought to enlist state staffers in a politically-charged press spat over a pardoned prisoner, an audio recording obtained by the Reno Gazette Journal reveals.
The recording, made by a fellow passenger aboard a Nov. 21 nonstop flight from Las Vegas to Reno, raises new questions about the politicization of the office held by Nevada’s top lawyer who is now seeking the Republican nomination for Nevada governor.
Those questions last made headlines in November, when the Nevada Democratic Party filed a public records request meant to determine whether politics played a role in Laxalt’s divisive decision to oppose pardoning a man wrongfully convicted of murder.
The attorney general’s office said this week that media inquiries involving the state Democratic party are directed to Laxalt’s campaign team, as opposed to taxpayer-funded staffers. That’s not unusual, given Nevada’s prohibitions against politicking on the public dime.
But the recording obtained last month by the RGJ shows Laxalt, in a phone conversation, called on an office staffer named Monica to help beat back a news story about the Democrats’ document demands only hours before the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported on the matter. Monica Moazez is the attorney general’s office spokeswoman.
Read the full story here.
This is the second time this year the attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate has been caught on tape crossing ethical lines. Earlier this year, Laxalt was ensnared in a massive ethics controversy because of an audio recording of him that was turned over to the FBI. Laxalt was seeking to pressure Nevada’s top gaming regulator to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of his biggest political donor, billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Helen Kalla released the following statement:
“Once again, Adam Laxalt’s incompetence has led to another embarrassing audio recording of his attempts to use his taxpayer-funded office to benefit his own political career. This story illustrates that Laxalt appears to be totally disinterested in abiding by basic ethics rules in his role as attorney general. Nevadans are still waiting for answers about why Laxalt first tried to abstain from casting this vote, why he ultimately cast the only vote against pardoning an innocent man, and whether that decision was motivated by political calculations. It’s increasingly clear that Adam Laxalt’s pattern of poor judgment and unethical behavior makes him unfit to do his current job, let alone receive a promotion to governor.”