Even after legal spat, Krolicki can’t blame partisan politics

From the start, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki took the position his indictment was fueled by partisan politics.

I never bought it. The timing was wrong.

Sure, the Republican was indicted shortly after he said he was interested in challenging Sen. Harry Reid in 2010. At the time, Krolicki knew he was a grand jury target. Concerns about how he handled $6 million when he was state treasurer were raised in 2007 by a nonpartisan legislative audit of that office.

But recently the husband of Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto handed Krolicki’s legal team some fresh ammo to support Krolicki’s contention she indicted him because he’s a Republican and she’s a Democrat.

A legal spat ensued — all because a husband didn’t communicate with his wife or consider public perception.

Husbands, learn from Paul Masto’s mistake.

Without a doubt, he showed a serious lapse of judgment by not mentioning to his spouse, the state’s top prosecutor, that hubby was hosting an event for Robert Randazzo, a Democratic challenger to Krolicki. Paul Masto and Randazzo’s wife were both in the Secret Service, a tie that binds. The Dec. 10 fundraiser has been canceled.

It was hard to believe the attorney general didn’t know her husband was hosting a fundraiser for someone hoping to replace Krolicki. Even a deputy attorney general admitted as much during a court hearing.

The unbelievable is true, the attorney general said.

“Yes, I wish he would have told me about the fundraiser,” the attorney general said Tuesday, keeping most of her annoyance out of her voice. “It was one of those things that was missed. He thought it (the fundraiser) wasn’t a big deal.”

She called it “an honest mistake. We both learned from this, that there’s certain issues we have to talk about.”

The attorney general usually spends two weeks each month in Northern Nevada and two in Southern Nevada, while her husband’s job is based in Las Vegas. “I do not bring work home and try not to talk about work.”

While they talk nightly when they’re apart, they avoid work talk. “We have other things in our lives,” she said.

Although the Mastos’ failure to communicate grabbed the headlines, that fundraiser flap is not the basis of a pending motion to dismiss the case against Krolicki. In court, Krolicki’s defense attorney Richard Wright contends his client’s actions were taken after consulting the attorney general’s office, a potentially excellent defense. He argued the law is unclear.

District Judge Valerie Adair is expected to issue her decision Monday as to whether to dismiss the charges or let the Dec. 14 trial go forward.

The case is hard to understand. The prosecution alleges Krolicki misappropriated $6 million from the Nevada College Savings Plan to pay marketing and legal fees without asking the Legislature for approval. The Legislature might have wanted to use the money for something else, like to feed starving children.

The allegation is that Krolicki benefited personally because the television ad campaign used him as the face of the college savings program at a time when he was contemplating running for lieutenant governor.

Television face time has an incalculable value, and the ads featured the handsome Krolicki with two adorable children, urging Nevadans to invest in the program so their children could afford college.

I remember asking Krolicki at the time whether ads featuring him were an appropriate use of public money. He insisted it was because he hadn’t filed for office yet.

Paul Masto does deserve a back-of-the head thwack for not realizing his actions might reflect poorly on his crime-fighting wife.

But until I see some kind of evidence to the contrary, Krolicki would be wise to drop “partisan politics” as a defense and stick to legal issues.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.

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