Gibbons’ mistake hogties newly appointed gaming commissioner

In his first two meetings as a new Nevada gaming commissioner, Las Vegas attorney Joe Brown declared he had conflicts 24 times and abstained from voting every time. Brown is probably being overcautious, based on an ethics opinion issued last year: He thought it’s better to disclose too much than too little.

However, there are unintended consequences.

The abstentions leave an impression that the new gaming commissioner, a partner in the large statewide Jones Vargas law firm, may not be able to adequately do the job Gov. Jim Gibbons appointed him to do.

If you abstain 12 votes out of 50, as Brown did in June, are you doing your job?

Brown abstained on votes involving Station Casinos and Harrah’s Entertainment, two biggies in Nevada gaming.

Brown said he had far more conflicts than he thought he’d have, far more than he told Gibbons he’d have, because he didn’t realize how much nongaming work his firm does for gaming clients, on top of all the gaming work.

It’s abundantly clear Gibbons made a mistake by not reappointing Brown to the Nevada Athletic Commission, where this would not have been an issue. Gibbons relied on bad advice (something he seems to do often) when he decided not to reappoint Brown to the athletic panel.

So the GOP governor tried to make it up by putting Brown on the Gaming Commission, which required Brown to resign from his prestigious political job as Nevada National Republican committeeman.

Yet another problem looms. What happens if there are so many conflicts among the five commissioners — four attorneys and one doctor — that there’s not three commissioners to make a quorum? That’s quite possible.

Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard, who recently switched law firms and may have more conflicts, said, if and when he’s faced with that problem, he’d have to call the attorney general for a solution. Bernhard left the Oregon-based firm of Bullivant Houser Bailey, which had no gaming clients, and recently joined Kummer Kaempfer. Bernhard expects to have more conflicts than he had in the past.

In the June meeting, Bernhard abstained once and attorney John Moran abstained twice (and one of those abstentions matched one of Brown’s 12 abstentions — the Indian Springs Casino). None of the recusals affected the outcome of a vote.

Brown is likely to abstain more than Bernhard because he’s a stakeholder in Jones Vargas, and Bernhard is "of counsel," which means he doesn’t get a financial benefit if his partners represent gaming companies.

Bernhard said he doesn’t have any conflicts with Station Casinos, but Chris Kaempfer has done some land use work for Harrah’s. So, Bernhard may have to disclose, but he should be able to vote since he’d receive no financial benefit.

Harrah’s has just contracted for a year with one of Brown’s partners, John Sande. So Brown’s conflict with Harrah’s remains problematic.

A 2008 ethics opinion broadened the ability of lawyers to vote if their partners represent a client who comes before the commission and the commissioner wouldn’t be "materially affected."

Brown was advised by the attorney general’s office that he could declare a conflict and vote if he was not personally involved. He’d have to decide if he would be "reasonably" or "materially" affected by his commitment to his law firm. (Of course, that’s not defined, it’s a judgment call.)

Instead, Brown decided to err on the side of caution, declare a conflict and not vote. Now he says he probably could have voted on half of the 24 votes in question based on the advice of the attorney general’s office.

Brown wanted to do the right thing and be aboveboard, and he should be commended.

He probably will be a fine gaming commissioner. He’ll be tough. After all, he’s the guy who once told boxing promoter Don King to sit down, shut up and don’t play the race card.

But Gibbons didn’t do Nevada any favors by putting someone on the gaming commission who gives the appearance of having so many conflicts.

Gibbons gave Brown a plum appointment to make up for his error in judgment in removing Brown from the athletic commission. He compounded one mistake with another.

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/.

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like