A clumsy, amateurish effort


Whether the indictment against Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was indeed a "partisan witch hunt" is a matter of debate, but there can be little doubt that the legal action was strange and ill-conceived.

On Monday, a District Court judge tossed out all charges against Mr. Krolicki and an aide, who were accused of mismanaging the state's college savings program.

"This has been just a very difficult ordeal," Mr. Krolicki said. "This whole thing has been absurd from the very beginning."

Brings to mind Ronald Reagan's labor secretary, Ray Donovan, who was acquitted of various corruption charges decades back and famously asked, "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?"

At least Mr. Krolicki, like Mr. Donovan, can take some solace in the fact that the system worked.

But that aside, it's fair to ask: What was Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto doing?

Her indictment never specified how Mr. Krolicki benefited from the purported mismanagement. In addition, there were no allegations that any funds were missing or that any participant had been shortchanged.

The gist of the charges seemed to center on criticism that Mr. Krolicki had overspent his advertising budget -- and did so as an act of self-promotion during the 2006 campaign.

Public corruption should indeed be a high priority for any state attorney general, but that's pretty flimsy stuff on which to hang a criminal charge on a sitting lieutenant governor.

In dismissing all four felony counts, Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair blasted the indictment as deficient and flawed. She noted that it failed to meet even minimal legal requirements, didn't properly lay out the charges and did "not satisfy due process."

Surely Ms. Cortez Masto needed to do better than that.

Mr. Krolicki is a Republican. Ms. Cortez Masto is a Democrat. The indictment successfully derailed Mr. Krolicki's anticipated challenge to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this fall -- thus leading to the whispers of "partisanship."

We'll leave that for the conspiracy theorists to sort out. Suffice it to say, though, that the dismissal should close the books on a clumsy and amateurish prosecution that never should have gotten this far.

 

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