Wide-eyed Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki awoke Monday morning in a brave new world awash in political sepia and manipulated by the Orwellian hand of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Imagine, politics practiced right here in the Silver State with women and children present.
Upon receiving a letter informing him he was a likely target for indictment by the Nevada attorney general for mismanaging state funds as treasurer, Krolicki immediately blamed Democrats in general and Reid specifically for his troubles. He was tarred by partisan politics, he asserted, and feathered by the friends of Reid who inhabit the Assembly, attorney general’s office, legislative auditors, and Lord knows what other shadowed corridor of power.
Why are they picking on this political innocent?
Because Brian Krolicki dared to dream, that’s why. He had the courage to challenge Reid in 2010. That made him the target of ridicule, innuendo and scorn.
Not to mention the target of a felony charge or two.
“I respectfully ask the citizens of Nevada to keep an open mind as the legal process proceeds in the coming weeks and months, and I submit that you will come to view this exercise for what it truly is — not a prudent prosecution, but a partisan persecution,” Krolicki wrote in a positively purple statement, “To the Citizens of Nevada.”
“My resolve to fight this matter shall not waiver, and when this terrible episode is concluded, you will know without doubt that I never betrayed your trust or confidence.”
Breathless prose of this caliber usually comes with a box of tissues, knights on steeds, and ripped bodices. Squire Krolicki is not merely innocent and faultless, but also the victim of “partisan persecution.”
Lest anyone prejudge, Krolicki is not just another hack Nevada politician who got lucky and rose through the ranks before he screwed something up. Nothing of the sort. In fact, he pledges to all Nevadans “that the truth and facts will provide my ultimate vindication in the following matter.”
What a relief. Perhaps in the coming months Krolicki and his lawyers can explain to the public’s satisfaction why legislative auditors found the then-state treasurer broke three Nevada laws when he allowed $6 million of state funds to remain in the hands of contractors. At least one contractor was an Atlanta-based company represented by his pal and political crony, former state Treasurer Bob Seale. Talk about your small, small worlds.
The whiff of alleged impropriety is something former state Controller Kathy Augustine talked about before she was murdered by her husband. Krolicki was a deputy treasurer during Seale’s tenure. Augustine’s professional life was controversial, but the legislative auditors appear to have confirmed some of her suspicions.
Krolicki has countered his critics by shouting that all contracts executed by his office with Seale-linked companies were approved by the state Board of Licensure, chaired by the governor.
What is that, the punch line to a joke?
This just in: Nevada’s record of state regulatory oversight is a national laughingstock. Apparently only Krolicki missed the memo. But perhaps our apprentice knight was guilty only of practicing good politics, not evil bad politics, when he slipped some business Seale’s way. Whether a grand jury winds up indicting over it or gives our gallant lieutenant governor a pass, it still stinks like the wrong end of Gringolet.
During his candidacy for lieutenant governor, Krolicki starred as Treasurer Willy Wonka accompanied by kiddies in television commercials touting the wonders of Nevada’s college savings plan. The commercials cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although he was eventually cleared of ethical wrongdoing, the slippery politics Krolicki was practicing at our expense was obvious.
Now that he’s called out not only Reid, but Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, her staff and investigators, he’d better be prepared to follow up with some facts of his own. The idea that Reid would be motivated to trip up a potential rival is hardly surprising, but the notion that a busload of elected officials and staffers would risk their own careers — not to mention their own freedom — to conspire to sink the rising political star of our weepy squire is beyond ludicrous.
Krolicki’s whining response to this mess speaks not of the shadowy strength of his enemies, but of the caliber of his own questionable character.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith/.