Gibbons official suggests attorney general may have violated conduct code

The fight over health care between Gov. Jim Gibbons and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto took yet another twist Friday when a spokesman for Gibbons suggested Masto ran afoul of Nevada’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers when she publicly advised the governor against taking legal action to block the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from taking effect.

It’s the latest in a dispute between Gibbons, a Republican, and Masto, a Democrat, that dates back to January when the governor first proposed the idea of asking the attorney general to take the fight against national health reform legislation to court.

Now Gibbons appears poised to question whether Masto, the state’s lawyer, violated attorney-client confidentiality rules by releasing to the public a March 30 letter in which she advised the governor a lawsuit to block reform “is not warranted by existing law at this time.”

Gibbons’ spokesman Dan Burns said it’s been discussed whether the letter, sent to news media across the state, violated rule 1.6 of the rules of professional conduct that states, in part, a lawyer “shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent.”

Burns said it will also “be discussed further on Tuesday,” the day Gibbons is expected to hold a news conference to discuss how he might go forward with a lawsuit to block the reform law.

Asked whether Gibbons gave consent to make the letter public, Burns said: “The governor feels that he has waived no privilege.”

Edie Cartwright, a spokeswoman for Masto, said the attorney general didn’t violate a confidentiality privilege because the governor didn’t ask for legal advice.

“Through a letter and a press release, he demanded that she join the lawsuit and asked for a decision as to whether or not she would file this suit,” Cartwright wrote. “She responded no, she would not join the suit at this time. She chose to elaborate on the reasons for her answer because she felt the citizens of the state had a right to understand why she decided not to join the suit.”

Legal experts differ on whether Gibbons could make a case Masto violated the lawyers’ code of conduct.

“Disclosing something that is confidential is never just an oops,” said Nancy Rapoport, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas law professor . “Every lawyer everywhere lives in fear of inadvertently disclosing confidential information.”

Former Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., who has also served as governor and attorney general, said the fact Masto and Gibbons were engaged in an ongoing public conversation about the issue means she likely didn’t run afoul of the code.

“The governor has made this a very public political issue. I think she had no choice but to provide a public response,” Bryan said.

The suggestion that Masto breached confidentiality is one of several volleys in the dispute with Gibbons that has raised unique constitutional questions for Nevada.

Gibbons, who like every Republican in Congress opposed the federal legislation, is adamant that a mandate in the new law for people to buy health insurance or face a fine violates the 10th amendment of the United States Constitution that limits the power of the federal government. He also says the law represents an unfunded mandate for the state of
$613 million from 2014-2019 by increasing the cost of Medicaid.

Attorneys general from 14 other states have made similar arguments, with 13 banding together to file suit to block the reform law in a federal court in Florida. Virginia filed its own suit separately.

Gibbons has been pressuring Masto to join the anti-reform law crowd since January, before the legislation was even signed into law.

At first Masto resisted by saying it was too early pass judgment because the then-bill was still changing.

When President Barack Obama signed the bill into law last month, Gibbons turned up the heat again and Masto said she needed time to read the law and make a decision.

On March 30 she sent the letter advising Gibbons against a suit.

“There is no practical reason for Nevada to join the litigation, absent a clear and separate legal interest that Nevada has apart from those other states,” Masto wrote. “We are not aware of such a reason and you have not directed our attention to one.”

Legal scholars have offered mixed opinions about the constitutional legitimacy of the reform bill.

Most say if a suit were to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court the justices would be highly likely to say the law falls within Congress’ broad power to regulate interstate commerce.

There’s less agreement among scholars about the constitutional purity of such an argument. Scholars on the left have called the states’ suits a “sham” and “totally frivolous.”

Others have said have said the 10th amendment argument raises a “serious constitutional issue.”

At the same time Gibbons was pressuring Masto to file suit on the grounds the reform law violated the U.S. Constitution he was also suggesting if she didn’t take the case he would find another lawyer to do the work. That a move raised questions about the balance of power between the governor and the attorney general under the Nevada constitution.

In a recent interview Masto didn’t say directly she would try to block Gibbons from taking action on his own, neither did she rule it out.

“I can’t say this enough, I would encourage the governor not to create a showdown between my office and his office,” Masto said.

The showdown may already be under way.

Jacob Hafter, one of the Republicans vying to challenge Masto in the November election, is among the attorneys who have offered to take the case for free.

Hafter says he has suggested the governor form a coalition of lawyers to work the case pro bono and start by joining the Florida case.

His suggestion is to file an amended complaint in that case and add elements that aren’t already included, such as a request to block enactment of any part of the law until the cases are settled.

“It is not about ego for me, it is about to make sure this law gets killed. We just can’t afford it,” Hafter said.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.

Bicyclists ride empty Interstate 11 before it opens Aug. 9
Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition sponsored a 25-mile ride on the yet-to-be-opened Interstate 11 to highlight bicycle and motorist safety. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead after shooting near Sahara and the Strip in Las Vegas
Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the news media on a shooting at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South that left one dead. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
2 in custody after chase
Two people were in custody after a chase involving Nevada Highway Patrol and Nye County Sheriff"s office deputies ended in southwest Las Vegas. Las Vegas police blocked off Rainbow Boulevard north of Tropicana Avenue around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement personnel prepared to tow a black sedan as part of their investigation. It's not certain what precipitated the chase or where and when it started. Check back for updates.
Police Officer's Vehicle Was Taken During Shooting
Video from body worn camera footage released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday shows an officer realizing his police vehicle has been taken during the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. It was later recovered at Sunrise hospital with the keys in the ignition and nothing removed. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
See Kitty Hawk’s flying car cruise over Lake Las Vegas
Kitty Hawk takes their flying car for a ride in the company’s hidden test facility in Lake Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Las Vegas police wild pursuit through busy Las Vegas streets
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Man shot strolling through park
A man was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after being shot while walking in a central Las Vegas park. Las Vegas police say the man and a woman were in Molasky Park just after midnight when the man was shot. The pair ran to a nearby supermarket where a security guard called for help. The man was hospitalized and as of 3 a.m. was in stable condition. Police have yet to identify the shooter and no suspects are in custody.
Police investigating shooting at east valley apartment complex
No one was injured late Monday night after someone fired shots at a vehicle at an east valley apartment complex. Police responded just before midnight to the Hamptons Apartments, 3070 S. Nellis Blvd. Someone fired shots at a vehicle that was leaving the complex, and struck the vehicle. Another bullet struck a nearby apartment building. The shooter or shooters remain at-large.
Suspect fires at Las Vegas police before officers shoot, end wild pursuit
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like