Daskas targets Clinton crowd


The campaign of Robert Daskas, the Democratic former prosecutor hoping to unseat Rep. Jon Porter in November, figured it knew where to find a lot of Henderson Democrats last week.

Stacks of Daskas leaflets were handed out at a Friday night rally featuring Bill and Hillary Clinton at Greenspun Junior High School on Valle Verde Drive.

At least 5,000 people crammed into the gymnasium to see the Clintons, while the cafeteria was filled with an overflow crowd listening on speakers and still more were turned away.

The fliers, Daskas' first campaign literature, show the candidate in a courtroom with a giant fingerprint on a screen behind him and the words, "A Prosecutor Makes the Case for Change in Washington." A campaign insider said the fingerprint was not Porter's.

Inside, Daskas is shown reading from a law book to a young woman, and posing with his wife and two children.

The flier touts his record of 32 convictions in 33 murder trials. "The people of Clark County counted on Robert to protect their safety and he delivered," it says.

On the back, Daskas stands next to the letters "JUSTICE" etched in marble and readers are urged to "Examine The Evidence On Robert Daskas," including a supportive quote from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

A spokesman for Porter, who goes unmentioned in the flier, reiterated his stance that he will not comment on any potential opponent until after August's Democratic primary.

The spokesman, Matt Leffingwell, declined to say when Porter plans to start his campaign literature.

VIVA LAS CAUCUSES

Guaranteed to hold a more colorful presidential contest than Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada did not disappoint in Saturday's caucuses. Spotted:

• She was the anecdote every national reporter was looking for: tall, blond and dressed in the brief, bright-blue uniform of the Paris Las Vegas cocktail waitress. She paced the hallway outside the Concorde Ballroom at the Paris in her high heels, explaining to someone on her cell phone why she supported Hillary Clinton.

"If you want change, get rid of the penis," she said. "In with the vagina."

• At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the Paris Las Vegas at-large precinct was owned by supporters of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama holding signs that urged Democratic caucus participants to "Stand For Hope."

That changed as Clinton campaign workers began passing out "I Support My Union, I Support Hillary" signs to cooks in paper hats and maids in uniform. One Clinton campaign worker correctly predicted that while Obama had the union endorsement, Hillary still would get support.

"It's a ground war," she said, passing out her signs.

• The rousing chants from Clinton supporters pushed one Obama backer over the edge at the Paris. He rushed to the edge of the 200 people waving red and black Hillary signs, shook his finger and shouted a reminder of Bill Clinton's checkered past with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky: "I did not have sex with that woman!"

PREACHING VIOLATION

A national religious freedom group has asked the IRS to investigate a Las Vegas church whose pastor endorsed Obama from the pulpit last week.

The executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Barry Lynn, said a Review-Journal report about the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in downtown Las Vegas clearly indicated the church violated the terms of its tax-exempt status.

"The pastor clearly stated that Obama should be elected, and he did so from the pulpit during Sunday services," Lynn said in a news release. "It's impossible to see this as anything but an endorsement."

Pastor Leon Smith told parishioners, "I want to see this man in office." The tax code forbids nonprofits, including churches, from engaging in political activity, such as endorsing or opposing particular candidates.

A spokesman for the group, Rob Boston, said the report of the remarks circulated on the Internet and "raised a lot of eyebrows."

"This was a clear case of a stated endorsement," he said.

In recent years, the IRS has been cracking down on political activity by nonprofits with a special initiative. In most cases, warnings are issued.

"There are other types of entities that are designed to be political," such as political action committees, Boston said. "Tax-exempt funds are not supposed to be used for political purposes. People go to church to connect with God, not to get a list of candidates to vote for."

Americans United takes some positions that aren't always popular, Boston said, such as opposing the use of "In God We Trust" on currency and government-funded "faith-based" social services. But "we find strong support for our position on this one," he said. "People don't like politicized churches. They don't necessarily know it's against the law, they just feel in their gut that's not what church should be for."

Violations cross party lines, Boston said, with fundamentalist churches sometimes crossing the line by endorsing Republican candidates.

The church couldn't be reached for comment last week. The IRS keeps its investigations confidential, so it's not known whether the agency is looking into the complaint.

YAHWEH FOR PRESIDENT

Elsewhere on the religion-and-politics front, many have come together to urge that Nevada's caucuses not be held on a Saturday morning again because they coincide with the Jewish Sabbath. Strict observance of Jewish law prohibits working on the Sabbath, including political activity.

At Temple Sinai in Summerlin, the board unanimously passed a resolution on Jan. 8 condemning the timing of the caucuses, saying it "disenfranchises a significant number of Jews and encourages others to violate the Sabbath," according to Rabbi Kenneth Segal.

The resolution was sent to local and national party leaders, he said.

A national pan-religious group also weighed in, calling the Saturday caucuses "disappointing" and urging a change for 2012.

"In a country that values religious liberty, no person should ever be forced to choose between practicing their religion and participating in their democracy," the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said. "America is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, and the political process should be open to all on equal terms."

Republican and Democratic party leaders have acknowledged that the caucuses, which were held at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. respectively, left many out with their requirement of in-person, on-time participation, and said that was regrettable but inherent to the process.

A spokesman for the interfaith group said that view was disrespectful to the centrality of religious faith in people's lives. Not wanting to violate religious commandments is more significant than being out of town or otherwise occupied, William Blake said.

Iowa's presidential caucuses until this year were typically held on Saturdays. But they were in the evening, and the Sabbath ends at sunset.

Las Vegas Republican Monterey Brookman, 56, attended her caucus at Clark High School on Saturday morning, but grudgingly. She was outraged that the caucus was held on her Sabbath.

"I just think people were not thinking," she said. "I had a very well-meaning Baptist fellow in my precinct say, 'Well, it couldn't be on a Sunday.' What about the five other days of the week?"

Brookman said she caucused despite her faith based on another Jewish law that says any other covenant can be broken if it means saving a human life.

"I consider this election extremely important," she said. "For me, it is a matter of life or death. So I feel that Hashem (a Jewish term for God) will be with me today."

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2919.

 

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