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Bill to replace AG as gaming board counsel has Wednesday hearing

Updated May 15, 2017 - 10:43 pm

CARSON CITY — A bill that would provide separate legal counsel to the state Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission was introduced Monday in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Assembly Bill 513 would establish the new general counsel for the gaming agency, replacing the attorney general’s office for legal work on most matters coming to the board and commission.

It was referred back to the committee for a hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when both Ways and Means and Senate Finance will consider it together.

The bill was requested by Ways and Means Chairwoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, after an affidavit from control board Chairman A.G. Burnett was released last week. In the affidavit, Burnett expressed concern about potential political influence on the oversight of Nevada’s dominant industry from Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

Burnett told the Review-Journal on Friday that he believed he took appropriate measures in early 2016 to resolve a concern about regulators being asked to file a friend of the court brief on behalf of licensee Las Vegas Sands Corp. involving the confidentiality of state records. Sands Corp. and its chairman and CEO, Sheldon Adelson, contributed to Laxalt’s campaign.

Burnett secretly recorded a conversation with Laxalt about the Sands request and sent the recording to federal authorities for review. The FBI found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But the details of the matter were subpoenaed by Carlton, who expressed concern about what she heard in the one-hour conversation between Burnett and Laxalt. The details of the conversation were covered in Burnett’s affidavit.

“Records obtained by legislative subpoena suggest that the attorney general has created a conflict of interest and that he should not continue to serve as counsel to the Gaming Control Board,” Carlton and Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, said in a statement released Monday.

Laxalt is a Republican who is considering a run for governor in 2018.

Some Republican lawmakers have called the issue a political attack by Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said Friday that Democratic lawmakers have “partnered with a rogue regulator to unfairly tarnish the reputation of our attorney general for crass, political purposes.”

On Monday, Roberson sent a letter to Burnett questioning the timing of the affidavit dated April 27 — prior to Carlton’s subpoena — asking whether it was done for Nevada Democrats. Roberson requested a response from Burnett by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Laxalt wrote Carlton on Monday expressing doubt that Wednesday’s hearing would be fair. In her response, Carlton said she would release all documents related to the matter Wednesday morning.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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