Democrats settle lawsuit, ex-senator says

Former state Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, and his attorney said Wednesday they have reached a settlement in a defamation lawsuit against the Nevada State Democratic Party, although the Democratic party would not concur.

Beers and attorney Craig Mueller said the Democrats agreed to pay $2,500 to charity and sign off on a letter saying that a 2008 campaign flier claiming Beers was under investigation by the Nevada Ethics Commission was false. The check will go to Opportunity Village, the charity of Beers’ choice.

“Victory. Bob is vindicated,” Mueller said. “The Democrats admitted he wasn’t under investigation.”

But the party said it wouldn’t comment until a settlement was complete and took some shots at Beers.

“We are not commenting on litigation that has yet to formally settle,” Democratic spokeswoman Phoebe Sweet wrote. “If we settle, we will be closing the books on a frivolous lawsuit brought by former Senator Bob Beers.”

The lawsuit stemmed from Beers’ unsuccessful campaign to fend off Democratic challenger Allison Copening.

During the late stages of the campaign, a mailer said Beers was under investigation from the Ethics Commission. Copening went on to win the election to the District 6 Senate seat in Clark County.

Beers filed a lawsuit against Copening and the party that alleged libel, slander and defamation.

In January 2009, District Judge David Barker dismissed the case against Copening because the fliers came from the party. Barker also tossed the slander complaint but let the libel and defamation accusations continue.

Sweet said Beers should apologize to Copening for including her in the original case though she was not responsible for the mailer.

Sweet also wrote: “The Nevada Democratic Party stands by its direct mail against Sen. Beers.”

A hard copy of the letter was not available, but Beers read a part aloud.

“The Nevada State Democratic Party issued a campaign mailer stating that Senator Beers was ‘under Ethics Commission review.’ However, Senator Beers was not under review by the commission at any time,” Beers read.

Beers said he and his attorney were set to depose party officials when they decided instead to settle the case.