Lowden feels heat over casino layoffs

Digging up dirt on opponents is a tried and true tactic on both sides of the political aisle.

And the Nevada Democratic Party and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s opposition research shop have been working overtime for months to get the goods on Sue Lowden, the GOP front-runner in the race who has lots to pick over as a casino executive who with her husband, Paul, has run several properties.

In the latest bid to go after Lowden, the state Democratic Party put an 8-by-6-inch ad in the Laughlin Times news­paper in April, asking for people who had been laid off from the couple’s Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in the past two years to contact the party and tell their stories.

"It’s just not right," says the ad that notes the Lowdens got big salaries while jobs were cut.

"We’re looking for people to share their story and make sure that those who dump their workers in tough times to give themselves a bonus don’t get away with it," says that ad, which provides a telephone number and an e-mail address for those wanting to complain.

More than 100 Pioneer jobs were eliminated, from 459 people in September 2008 to 353 people in September 2009, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission report filed earlier this year by the Archon Corp., which owns the hotel-casino.

The Reid campaign distributed the report.

Meantime, Paul Lowden, the company president, collected a $550,000 salary and a $200,000 bonus in 2009, and the same in 2008, according to the company report.

Sue Lowden, who is executive vice president, secretary and treasurer, was paid a salary of $138,000 in 2009 and did not collect a bonus. In 2008, her salary was $136,182, plus a bonus of $6,797.

Reid campaign manager Brandon Hall criticized Lowden when the report came out.

"After claiming that job creation is her top priority, Lowden owes her former employees an explanation why their jobs were worth less than her husband’s massive bonus," Hall said, trying to undercut her argument she is a businesswoman who has created jobs.

"As her own campaign says, her record in the private sector speaks volumes about how she would represent Nevada in Washington."

At the time, Lowden’s campaign cried foul, saying Lowden does not serve on the Archon compensation committee that determines her husband’s bonus. It said Paul Lowden has not gotten a salary increase since 1996, and in the past has turned down "significant" stock option awards.

"My husband and I are proud to have created thousands of private-sector jobs in Nevada’s leading economic industry," Lowden said then. "We have provided health care and retirement benefits."

The Lowden campaign has tried to bat aside efforts to criticize her record as a state senator and as a casino manager, saying the Reid campaign has long said that it would "vaporize" his opponent.

Travis Brock, executive director of the Nevada State Democratic Party, makes no apologies for playing hardball when the stakes are so high.

Asked about the newspaper ad, Brock said, "Sue Lowden has chosen to make her business record the centerpiece of her campaign, and as such, we intend to discuss the fact she made herself rich on the backs of struggling Nevadans, paid her husband a $200,000 bonus while laying off workers, and illegally eliminated health care benefits for her employees."

As the saying goes, all’s fair in love and war –– and apparently politics.

arizona immigration law

Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval are running for governor in Nevada but taking political cues from Arizona.

Reid, the leading Democrat, and Sandoval, the leading Republican, are staking out opposite positions on Arizona’s new law aimed at curbing illegal immigration.

In an interview Friday, Reid said the law could prompt "Gestapo-like tactics" by authorities seeking to root out illegal immigrants by demanding proof of citizenship from law-abiding Americans and legal immigrants.

Sandoval on Friday told Univision 15 in Las Vegas, "I do support the Arizona law."

Reid, who is trailing in polls pitting him against Sandoval, is seeking to bolster support among Hispanic voters, many of whom oppose the law on the grounds they believe it could result in racial profiling of Hispanic Americans by police.

"I think it is a fundamental violation of the Constitution to have people based on how they look to be asked to produce identification as they walk down the street," said Reid, who also is chairman of the Clark County Commission. "I don’t think anybody wants to live in a country like that."

Sandoval, who won’t advance to the general election against Reid unless he defeats incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon, is seeking to maintain credibility with conservative voters who will decide the Republican primary.

In the Univision interview Sandoval, a former federal judge and attorney general, said he supports the law but only if it isn’t enforced through racial profiling.

Sandoval also said provisions that would prompt police to seek proof someone is in the United States legally apply only if the person is already being detained for another possible violation and police have "reasonable suspicion" to believe they are in the country illegally.

"If it is based on the way you look, that violates the Fourth Amendment," Sandoval said. "That is racial profiling and that is wrong and that is something I could not and will not support."

Review-Journal reporter Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report. Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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