Political consultant twice gave clients in judge races bad advice

David Thomas is an inactive attorney in good standing who was admitted to the State Bar of Nevada in 2003. The political consultant who owns David Thomas Policy Communications at least twice has given his judicial clients poor advice and exposed them to criticism for campaign practices.

The most recent problem occurred in 2010, when he organized a fundraiser for 11 of his clients and dubbed it an event for “The Magnificent Eleven.”

Five weeks after the Sept. 1, 2010, event, the Standing Committee for Judicial Ethics and Election Practices said it violated a judicial canon. The standing committee said it was OK to do group events, but not group fundraisers, because that is soliciting money for other candidates, which is not permissible.

The specific canon advises judges and judicial candidates against “abusing the prestige of judicial office to advance the interests of others.”

People attending the event were asked to give one check to David Thomas Policy Communications and the money raised would be shared among the 11. That technique also failed to disclose who was contributing to which candidate.

The opinion was merely advisory, and no one was disciplined.

The Magnificent Eleven were Family Court Judge Bill Gonzalez and candidates Gloria Sturman, Ron Israel, Jerry Wiese, Rob Bare, Gayle Nathan, Susan Scann, Phil Dabney, Vincent Ochoa, Kristine Kuzemka, and Thomas’ wife, Nancy Allf.

Thomas told the Review-Journal in 2010 he only raised $7,500, which split 11 ways didn’t bring in tons of money. He said candidates would do better holding their own events.

In 2004, Thomas drew negative attention to nine of his judicial candidates when he helped organize a flier identifying them as Republicans, which violates another judicial canon. Judges can disclose their party affiliation when asked, but they are not supposed to advertise it.

The fliers were sent out in October 2004 to 150,000 registered Republicans in Clark County.

It read: “It is important to elect Republicans in nonpartisan races. Please use this card to fill out your Sample Ballot for Republican candidates, or take it to the polls with you.” It also listed Republicans running for regents and the school board, but they are not restricted from advertising their party affiliation.

The names listed included three judicial candidates who paid $5,000 each to be on the flier: Judge Betsy Gonzalez, Judge Stefany Miley and Justice of the Peace candidate Jim Gubler.

Others didn’t pay, but were listed, including Bernie Zadrowski, Dianne Steel, John Mason, Elizabeth Halverson, Gerald Hardcastle and Sandra Pomrenze.

District Judge Ron Parraguirre, then running for the Nevada Supreme Court, asked to be left off the list.

Again, candidates relied on Thomas’ advice that what they were doing was legal, but no action was taken against anyone.