Boggs’ eloquence fails to prevent indictment on ethics charges

Good communicators find their skills enhanced by believing passionately in what they say. It helps their credibility and their powers of persuasion. But while Lynette Boggs might have believed what she was saying, the Clark County grand jury didn’t.

The grand jury investigation into Boggs was no surprise, but the shocker came Tuesday when she decided to use her noted communication and marketing skills to try to convince the grand jury she did nothing wrong. She must have believed she still had the magic touch.

We’ll know exactly what she said later after grand jury transcripts become public, but one thing is obvious: The grand jury didn’t buy what Boggs was selling Tuesday because she was indicted the next day.

She’s the fifth ex-Clark County commissioner to be indicted since 2003.

Boggs has lied to me in the past, and more than once.

In 2004, I was investigating the bank’s foreclosure against her posh Summerlin home, and she told me it was all a mistake. Although the records said the couple had missed 10 months of mortgage payments, Boggs insisted they had been paying the mortgage, but the mortgage had been sold so the payments weren’t getting to the right place.

Later her husband, Steven McDonald, said it was a lie. The couple had been living far beyond their means, and the bank was about to foreclose on their $505,000 Summerlin home.

Politicians living beyond their means raise red flags.

The pink bathrobe explanation was one of her most audacious. Videotapes showed her hauling trash and picking up newspapers in her pink robe outside a big house outside her district. She explained she was considering buying the house and was just giving it a test run: “The people that own it told me I could stay there whenever I wanted to see if I really liked it.”

She insisted she lived in the little house, although her neighbors hadn’t seen her there.

Now she’s facing two perjury charges and two charges of filing false documents.

Two of the counts involve her claim that she lived in the little house when she filed to run for the commission in May 2006. The other two involve her claim on campaign reports that she paid a nanny for campaign work when the nanny said her job was to take care of Boggs’ two children.

Among the grand jury witnesses were Steven McDonald, nanny Kelly Mcleod and her former campaign assistant Linda Ferris.

Boggs testified for an hour and 45 minutes. She probably thought she could do what she’s done in the past: use her communication skills to throw doubt on everyone else’s testimony. What she might have done is expose herself to additional charges.

Just because she wasn’t immediately indicted for lying to the grand jury on top of the four other charges doesn’t mean she got a free pass.

“We will review the grand jury transcript to see if additional charges are appropriate,” District Attorney David Roger said Wednesday.

Her grand jury testimony had one other result: Nobody in law enforcement is going to want to persuade her to become a cooperating government witness because she’ll lack credibility, especially if additional perjury charges are filed.

A master marketer, Boggs has always exuded confidence, whether she was Miss Oregon in 1989 or a politician. Her political career was truly a roller coaster. She lost her Assembly race as a Democratic candidate in 1998. She was appointed to the Las Vegas City Council. Ran for Congress in 2002. Lost. Was appointed to the county commission early in 2004 and later that year was elected to a two-year-term. Lost her bid for a full term in 2006. In less than nine years, she went from a GOP star, a bright, articulate black woman, to being indicted on four felonies.

Nobody told the GOP she’s a fallen star. As recently as January, she was praised in a speech by then-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman as a “trailblazer” Republicans should be proud of. In 2006, President Bush appointed her to the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, a job similar to a board of trustees, a position she still has.

But her powers of persuasion seem to be failing.

Now, Lynette Boggs looks delusional and deceitful.

And unbelievable.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0275.

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