Lawmaker's call to woman sparks call for resignation

CARSON CITY -- An audio recording of a telephone call in which state Sen. Dennis Nolan tells a Las Vegas woman that it could be "very financially beneficial" if she would tell the truth about a rape case involving one of his friends was released Wednesday by his primary opponent.

Nolan, a Las Vegas Republican who is seeking re-election in Senate District 9 in northwest Clark County, admitted making the call a week ago, but after listening to the tape, he said it "might" have been altered by Republican challenger Elizabeth Halseth.

He said he was not trying to bribe the woman but to induce her to meet with him while he wore a "wire," or recording device, so that he could tape what she said.

He anticipated she would say the sex that the man had with her then-16-year-old sister was consensual, contrary to what their father, Tim Anderson, has been saying in radio advertisements being run by Halseth's campaign against him, and that her former husband and his friend, Gordon Joseph Lawes, should not have been convicted.

"The only information I have is from a guy who is locked up," Nolan said. "No one else believes him. I have to find a way to get at the truth. It infuriates me. I do not know if it could be much worse for me."

Nolan said he made up the "financially beneficial" statement and never intended to give the woman money for talking.

He also said his story sounded like something out of a "Jerry Springer television show."

Halseth did not accuse Nolan directly of trying to bribe the woman. She issued a statement: "I believe people should draw their own conclusion about what they hear on this tape."

"The family brought the recording to my campaign because they found the message disturbing and felt it was something that the public needed to hear," Halseth said.

But Chuck Muth, a conservative political consultant who has repeatedly criticized Nolan for supporting tax increases, said there is no question what Nolan reportedly did was wrong.

"If, indeed, Senator Nolan made this call, his resignation should be on the governor's desk by noon tomorrow … if not tonight," Muth said.

David McGowan, Halseth's campaign manager, said Nolan is trailing in the June 8 primary and is so desperate about winning that he wants to tempt the woman -- who wants to stay out of the election -- with money to make untrue statements about her father.

In the radio advertisements, Anderson denounces Nolan for defending Lawes. Nolan testified in court in 2008 as a character witness for his friend, who then was the woman's husband and father of their two children.

Nolan said he was subpoenaed to testify.

Halseth's campaign asked the media not to identify the woman Nolan called or the sexual assault victim, who is now 22.

Lawes was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 10 years for raping the girl. Prosecutors said he left his sleeping wife and went downstairs and raped the girl while she was drunk and unconscious.

Nolan said Anderson has custody of the children of the victim's sister and would try to cut off her visitation rights if she tells the truth and talks to him.

He said that he recently spoke to Lawes in prison and that he still believes he did not rape the girl. He said 16 is the age of consent in Nevada.

After he made the call to Anderson's daughter, Nolan said he spoke with Jerry Hafen, the state director of the Department of Public Safety.

Hafen, according to Nolan, told him to contact the attorney general's office. The senator said he then spoke with the chief investigator of the Nevada Division of Investigations about making the call. Whether he made such contacts could not be confirmed Wednesday evening.

"Nothing he says even smells right," McGowan said.

When asked why he did not go to law enforcement authorities before making the call, Nolan said he doubted any police agency would have authorized his plan to make calls, wear a wire and record what the woman said.

Nolan also has made numerous accusations against Anderson.

McGowan said Anderson will talk to the media today.

In the radio advertisements, Anderson says of Nolan: "What kind of person defends a child rapist who sexually assaults our kids?"

He then says, "Tell him that defending child rapists is not OK."

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.