Last night, despite hiding from a scheduled debate with his Republican opponents on a single stage on live TV, gubernatorial hopeful Adam Laxalt still managed to get tripped up on tough questions from Las Vegas’ 8 News Now. We checked the facts behind Laxalt’s responses to questions on the key issues.
Laxalt: “I support background checks and I think we’ve got a very strong background check regime in the state of Nevada today.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt has actively blocked an effort to strengthen Nevada’s background check system. He recorded ads for the NRA’s $6.6 million initiative to defeat Question 1, a ballot measure that expands background checks to include private party sales. Since voters passed the measure in 2016, he has refused to work to enforce it. Laxalt’s refusal to work to enforce Question 1 caused the Giffords Center to lower Nevada’s gun violence prevention score from a C- to a D.
Laxalt: “We led the charge of banning bump stocks.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt hardly “led the charge” to ban bump stocks. Instead, he’s punted to the federal government on banning the device the Las Vegas shooter used to massacre 58 people — not once, but twice.
Laxalt: “[Protecting victims of sexual harassment] just has to be a priority and will be a priority if I’m the governor of this state.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt has refused to condemn the alleged sexual harassment committed by two of his political supporters. He is the only major gubernatorial candidate who hasn’t disavowed the decades-long pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by Steve Wynn, who’s given Laxalt $45,000 since 2015. In this same interview, Laxalt also refused to renounce the endorsement of Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro, who was found by an independent investigation to have sexually harassed a former employee and has received “more than 10” other complaints of misconduct.
ENDORSEMENT FROM SHERIFF ANTINORO
Laxalt: “I hope the voters understand that while there’s this kind of political theatrics going on and people demand an immediate rejection or endorsement — this case was referred to my office just a few weeks ago. I have career prosecutors and investigators working on it and I’ve said this before — it’s not covered of course because they want to use this as a political battering ram — I’m not going to do or say anything until that investigation is complete.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt didn’t need to wait until asked “a few weeks ago” to investigate Antinoro, and is campaigning with the sheriff this weekend while he’s under investigation by Laxalt’s office. The sheriff’s misconduct has been public knowledge since at least 2016, when citizens successfully petitioned to recall him over his demonstrated pattern of sexual predation and unethical conduct, including findings from an independent investigation that concluded he sexually harassed his employee.
Laxalt: “I’m very confident that we can replace [the Commerce Tax] if necessary…The bottom line is I do pledge to keep the education funding where it is.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt wants to repeal Gov. Brian Sandoval’s bipartisan Commerce Tax, which provides hundreds of millions in historic education funding every year. Gov. Sandoval has said Laxalt’s repeal plan disqualifies Laxalt from earning his support. Earlier this month, Laxalt “said he hasn’t yet decided how to offset what would be the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.”
CASTING THE LONE “NO” VOTE AGAINST PARDONING AN INNOCENT MAN
Laxalt: “For me this simply wasn’t a tough call.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt tried to abstain before voting “no” on pardoning Fred Steese, who spent 21 years in jail for a wrongful murder conviction. Gov. Sandoval and all seven justices on the Nevada Supreme Court voted to grant Steese a full pardon. The Attorney General’s handling of the pardon vote has been called “very close to a disqualifying act” that “raised serious questions about Laxalt’s fitness for the state’s most important office.”
Laxalt: “The President and the Secretary of Interior are not for turning all of our lands over. It’s simply off the table.”
THE FACTS: Laxalt aggressively litigated against the Obama Administration for supposed “federal overreach” on land and water issues but is letting Trump set the agenda on federal ownership of land in Nevada. Laxalt refused to defend Nevada’s public lands from Trump’s cuts in opposition to an overwhelming majority of Nevadans.