Judge charged by panel

CARSON CITY — Clark County District Judge Lee Gates has been charged by the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission with two counts of improperly contributing to the campaigns of fellow jurists in 2004.

The complaint, filed Nov. 2 by commission Special Prosecutor Dorothy Nash Holmes, said Gates contributed $5,000 to Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron for her successful election bid in 2004.

The complaint said that Gates, who had unspent campaign funds from 2002 when he ran for re-election unopposed, also contributed $5,000 to Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas in 2004. Douglas, a former Clark County district judge, had been appointed to the Supreme Court and was running for election to the position.

Gates’ contributions were in effect an endorsement of judicial candidates in violation of judicial rules, the complaint said. It also alleges Gates violated canons that call for judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary; avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; refrain from allowing family members to influence judicial conduct; and refrain from improper or unauthorized disposal of unspent campaign funds.

Holmes cited a 2005 advisory opinion in finding a violation of judicial rules.

A more recent action by the Supreme Court regarding campaign contributions rejects the conclusions in that advisory opinion and could undermine the strength of the complaint.

Holmes cited an advisory opinion issued in 2005 by the Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices in the complaint, which at the time of the 2004 contributions had concluded that donations in excess of $100 were prohibited because they constituted a public endorsement of a judicial candidate. Those who contribute more than $100 to a political candidate in Nevada are required by law to be listed by name on a candidate’s campaign report.

But the Supreme Court, in a rule change adopted in 2006, amended its canons to say: “A judge or judicial candidate’s donation to a candidate or political organization that is otherwise permitted by state or federal law is not considered a public endorsement of a candidate for political office.”

The court said any limit on political contributions that are authorized by state or federal law would be a violation of the judge or judicial candidate’s First Amendment rights.

Holmes could not be reached for comment on the Supreme Court rule change and the rationale for going forward with the complaint.

But Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, questioned the move by the Judicial Discipline Commission to go forward, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision on judicial campaigning in the Republican Party of Minnesota vs. White case.

“I can’t really weigh in on why she (Holmes) chose to do what she did, but the U.S. Supreme Court has been quite clear in the White ruling on the free speech rights of judicial candidates,” he said. “The Nevada Supreme Court has showed in their new rules that they are cognizant of that as well. Why the commission has taken this action, at least to me, is somewhat of a mystery.”

Both Bennett-Haron and Douglas reported the contributions from Gates on their contribution and expense reports filed with the secretary of state’s office in 2004.

Gates did not report either contribution on his 2004 contribution and expense report, according to the complaint.

The Judicial Discipline Commission will have a public hearing on the matter and, if the charges are upheld, impose a punishment as provided for in state law. A date for the hearing has not been set. A range of penalties are available, including an apology, fine or suspension from office if the commission finds clear and convincing evidence of a violation.

Dave Sarnowski, executive director of the Judicial Discipline Commission, could not comment on the complaint, but said Gates has denied the allegations. Gates has 20 days to file a formal response, he said.

Neither Gates nor Bennett-Haron could be reached for comment Tuesday on the complaint. Gates’ six-year term on the court lasts through 2008.

Douglas said he did not think it was appropriate for him to comment in any detailed way.

“I was contacted by the Judicial Discipline Commission, and I spoke with them,” he said. “Judge Gates gave me funds but never publicly endorsed me. Does making a contribution constitute an endorsement? I don’t know what they are alleging.”

The complaint also said that the judicial canons specify what leftover campaign funds can be used for, including a future re-election campaign, among other limited uses. The rules do not provide for contributions to other judicial candidates as made by Gates.

The complaint also alleges that Gates misrepresented to the discipline commission the facts of the contribution to Bennett-Haron. The complaint says Gates at one point maintained it was made at the direction of his wife, former Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, and at another time said it was made at his own discretion.

In the first response, Gates said his wife asked him to contribute $5,000 of $10,000 she had given him for his 2002 election campaign. Gates ended up with just over $100,000 for his campaign but drew no opponents. Gates reported receiving the $10,000 from his wife, but Atkinson Gates did not report the contribution to her husband on her campaign report, the complaint said.

In a later statement, Gates said he discussed the contribution with his wife but made the decision to contribute to Bennett-Haron on his own.

The statements are inconsistent and therefore one or the other is a misrepresentation to the commission, the complaint said.

The complaint also said that Gates knew he was being investigated by the commission for an improper contribution to Bennett-Haron but still failed to disclose the contribution to Douglas to commission investigator Dennis Arnoldy.

Authorities have been investigating whether Atkinson Gates illegally enriched herself with political contributions by hiring relatives as campaign staffers and having them return some of their pay to her, sources have told the Review-Journal. Specifically, police are focusing on the $407,343 Atkinson Gates paid her son, his wife and the couple’s business from her 2004 campaign fund.

After the investigation was underway, Gates in 2006 filed a campaign and expense report showing a personal loan of $10,600 to his campaign account to cover the contributions to Bennett-Haron and Douglas.

Gates also later amended his 2005 campaign expense report to reflect the contribution to Douglas.

According to the complaint, Gates told the investigator the failure to report the contribution to Douglas on his campaign report was because of bad bookkeeping.

The state Supreme Court has adopted a new rule for judicial candidates as a result of action by the 2007 Legislature to change the filing dates for most court races. The new rule prohibits judicial candidates from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions if they run unopposed.

The ban will take effect in the upcoming 2008 election year.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
David Copperfield executive producer testifies during the magician's civil trial
A British tourist is suing illusionist David Copperfield saying he was injured during a trick. Chris Kenner, executive producer for illusionist David Copperfield, was on the witness stand all day Tuesday, April 17. Kenner testified that a business manager for the show talked to the man after he fell. Kenner testified that the tourist, Gavin Cox, said he was OK moments after the fall. Cox later told the crew: “Maybe I will have this looked at.” Copperfield is the next witness in line for Cox’s attorneys. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
CCSD Teacher Is a Living Organ Donor
June Monroe speaks about her kidney donation to her brother and advocacy work with the National Kidney Foundation.
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest. Teachers are upset over many things, including the fact that the district is fighting an arbitration ruling for pay raises. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Clark County commissioners debate getting rid of Henderson, North Las Vegas constables
Clark County commissioners are debating whether to get rid of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables after RJ's story pointing out questionable spending by the Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York, which had 143 passengers and a crew of five onboard, landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. According to NBC10, a female passenger was partially sucked out of a broken window, which was a result of the plane's engine ripping apart. It's not known if the female passenger was the one who died. Emergency personnel met the battered plane upon its landing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the blown engine resulted in a smashed window and a damaged fuselage. Southwest Airlines The FAA said that the NTSB will lead the investigation into what happened.
Single vehicle crash kills man
A man died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in northeast Las Vegas. The crash occurred Tuesday morning on the 1900 block of Pasadena Boulevard, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Mt. Hood Street. Police had few details, but Metro's fatal detail was on the scene investigating.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide (update)
Update from LVMPD on Sunset Park homicide. Releasing suspect's name (Blake Apgar)
Sunset Park Homicide
Police give details about Sunset Park homicide on Sunday, April 15, 2018. (Blake Apgar)
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care
Parents of autistic child talk about their experience waiting for care. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
Endangered Devils Hole Pupfish numbers enough for concern, but not panic
Researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Death Valley National Park came together at Devils Hole, about 90 miles west of Las Vegas, for a biannual count of the Devils Hole Pupfish, an endangered species. Their count this time – 87. (Video by Patrick Connolly)
Hickey Elementary Students Put Harry Potter on Trial
Liliam Lujan Hickey Elementary School students learned how the judicial system works by putting Harry Potter on trial for the illegal use of magic.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
The Clark County Museum Turns 50 This Month
The Clark County Museum has an extensive collection, dating back to prehistoric times in Southern Nevada up through the present day. It was first established in April 1968 and has had several locations before it's current home on South Boulder Highway.
Route 91 Artifacts Will Be On Display This October
Clark County Museum Administrator Mark Hall-Patton explains what artifacts will be on display in October as part of the museums Route 91 shooting memorial exhibit called "How We Mourned."
Bullet grazes woman's head
Las Vegas police investigating calls of a shooting early Friday morning found a woman who suffered a wound to her head. A bullet grazed the woman's head while she was inside her Village Square apartment on Nellis Oasis Lane. She did not have to be hospitalized, and police said she might have been an "unintended" victim. The shooting occurred around 4 a.m. Police are looking for the shooter.
Aces Host Draft Party
The Las Vegas Aces host a WNBA draft party at the Mandalay Bay for season-ticket holders, and have the number one overall pick.
Las Vegas man stands with president at White House
President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden Thursday about how the GOP tax cut plan helped working families across the country. To his left stood Richard Kerzetski, president of Universal Plumbing & Heating Co. in Las Vegas. Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Transgender Man Running for Assembly District 42
U.S. Army veteran La Don Henry is hoping to become Nevada’s first openly transgender state legislator.
Erik Weihenmayer is the First Blind Person to Summit Mount Everest
Erik Weihenmayer talks about how he first got into mountaineering in 1995 with the ascent of Denali, the tallest peak in North America, and what he loves about climbing.
New Theater Coming to Neonopolis
Ken Henderson explains his concept for Notoriety, a 57,000-square-foot theater complex on the third floor of Neonopolis intended to host comedy, music and theater acts.
Politicians, Tenants Come Together at Neonopolis
Neonopolis Owner Rohit Joshi explains the concept behind the Nevada Business Forum, which brings Neonopolis tenants and politicans together once a month to discuss issues that are important to them.
USPS is holding a class for mail carriers for dog bite prevention week
USPS is holding a class for mail carriers on preventing dog bites just in time for dog bite prevention week. Sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, is a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the need for increased owner responsibility in the prevention of dog attacks. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Strip robbery spree ends in casino parking garage
A pair of robbery suspects led police to three parking garages around the Las Vegas Strip before they were caught early Tuesday morning. The first robbery took place at the Treasure Island parking garage, where two suspects "battered" a 71-year-old, her adult daughter and a juvenile girl. The suspects, one of who was armed, next demanded money and property from a pair of 18-year-olds at Fashion Show mall. The suspects were later spotted at the SLS Las Vegas parking garage. They tried to get away by ramming a patrol car with their vehicle. That effort failed and they were taken into custody.
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
News Video
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like