The State Bar of Nevada on Friday began the process of disciplining convicted former lobbyist Harvey Whittemore.
It filed a petition formally notifying the Nevada Supreme Court of Whittemore’s conviction and judgment.
By its rules, the Supreme Court must automatically suspend Whittemore’s license to practice law and refer the matter back to the State Bar for disciplinary proceedings that could result in further sanctions.
In its petition, the State Bar asked the high court to refer the case to its Northern Nevada Disciplinary Board in Reno, where Whittemore lives. He has been a member of the bar since 1977.
Whittemore, 61, who once wielded much influence in Nevada politics, was sentenced to two years in federal prison this week. He has until Jan. 31 to surrender to prison authorities.
A federal jury in Reno convicted Whittemore on May 29 of unlawfully funneling $133,400 in contributions to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Whittemore was accused of giving money to 29 family members and employees of his former development company, Wingfield Nevada Group, and then using them as “conduits” for contributions to Reid’s campaign in 2007.
Whittemore was found guilty of three felony counts: making excessive campaign contributions, making contributions in the name of another and causing a false statement to be made to the Federal Election Commission.
The jury reported it was deadlocked on the fourth count, making a false statement to the FBI. Hicks declared a mistrial on that count and later dismissed it.
Whittemore is appealing his conviction.
Prosecutors alleged during a two-week trial that Whittemore met with Reid at an upscale restaurant on the Strip in February 2007 and promised to raise $150,000 for the Nevada Democrat’s re-election campaign.
Whittemore hatched the conduit scheme days before the March 31, 2007, campaign contribution deadline without Reid’s knowledge in a desperate attempt to fulfill his promise to the influential senator, prosecutors alleged.
At the time, Whittemore was developing Coyote Springs, a master-planned community in Southern Nevada, and needed congressional help to overcome government hurdles.