February 17, 2017 Press Releases

Scathing Criticism Piles Up on Adam Laxalt’s Pay-to-Play Scandal


by Nevada Democrats

Nevada political expert: “He can dance around the issue and say nothing illegal occurred, but the optics are terrible.”


Las Vegas, NV – Scathing criticism is pouring in for Attorney General and soon-to-be Republican candidate for Governor Adam Laxalt after Jon Ralston’s bombshell report that Laxalt pressured Nevada’s chief gaming regulator to intercede in a lawsuit on behalf of his biggest campaign donor.

Eric Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada at Reno:

Eric Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada at Reno, said Burnett’s decision to tape his conversation with Laxalt was “a prudent move.” “The story clearly shows just how connected big gaming is to the political process. That really isn’t much of a story, but this is about as blatant as it gets,” Herzik said.

Herzik said the incident makes Laxalt “look like a water carrier for Adelson.” “He can dance around the issue and say nothing illegal occurred, but the optics are terrible,” Herzik told GamblingCompliance.

Dennis Neilander, former Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman:

“I think the chairman did the right thing here,” said Dennis Neilander, a Carson City attorney whose ten-year term as Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman ended in 2010. “Myself and several other chairmen over the years have upheld a necessary principle of gaming regulation. The gaming apparatus should never be used as a shield or sword by third parties in litigation unless there is some potential damage to the state or the agency,” Neilander said in an email to GamblingCompliance.

Ira Hansen, Republican Assemblyman:

Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen said he’s noticed Democrats’ eagerness to criticize Laxalt and his office and predicts an ongoing effort to try to discredit Laxalt, who’s considered a likely front runner in the 2018 race for governor. But he acknowledged the situation is embarrassing.

“Obviously, it doesn’t look good for Adam to go down and intervene on behalf of Adelson. Adam will have to do some explaining,” Hansen said.

Sondra Cosgrove, Nevada League of Women Voters President:

League of Women Voters President Sondra Cosgrove said even the appearance of quid pro quo among elected officials made it difficult to get people involved in the political process because stories like this make the entire system appear “rigged.”

“If technically he hasn’t broken any laws or rules, that’s fine, but then we have to ask ourselves, why (aren’t) there laws and rules that should have been broken here?” she asked of Laxalt’s actions. “Because it doesn’t pass the smell test, that’s for sure.”

Yvanna Cancela, Democratic State Senator:

“I think we’re very fortunate to have gaming regulators who follow the law and are clearly bound to honoring the responsibility that they have. I think it’s very troublesome that our chief legal officer was in that situation and felt compelled to even have that kind of a conversation,” said Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela.

“But I don’t think it’s an issue with the system. I think it’s an issue with the person in that office and it merits a real investigation into what the motives were and what made him feel that was the right course of action.”

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