Veterans “advocate” and Family Court critic Steve Sanson is a loser in politics.
He’s 0 for 4 in seeking elected office, having lost four primaries. When he’s not running doomed campaigns, the president of Veterans in Politics International files complaints against office holders — folks who’ve actually won a race. He files so many complaints it’s no longer possible to determine whether he’s making credible claims, acting out of spite or just trying to draw attention to himself in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” fashion.
Review-Journal reporter Rachel Crosby outlined Sanson’s latest dogfight in a story published Sunday. Sanson’s new target: Family Court Judge Bryce Duckworth.
Duckworth last week recused himself from a divorce and custody case, saying Sanson had engaged in “outside interference in the administration of justice through intimidation, threats and improper influence.” Sanson had previously filed an ethics complaint against the judge with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, one of a handful he has filed against various judges.
No public opinions against these judges have been issued as a result of Sanson’s complaints. Another 0-fer.
With the Duckworth complaint pending, it seemed the right time to remind people of Sanson’s political past as well as his failures and the techniques he uses.
Sanson first ran for office in 2005, when he sought the Ward 6 seat on the Las Vegas City Council. Reporters revealed the Marine veteran had been convicted of domestic violence against wife number two in 1997 and had filed for bankruptcy in 2003, declaring debts of $14,149.
In 2006, he ran for Clark County public administrator. Lost.
In 2010, he and his son ran for two offices under the same name, Steve Sanson, making no effort to distinguish between junior and senior. Junior filed for state Senate District 12. Senior ran for public administrator again. I thought it was deceitful to confuse voters, and said so. Both lost.
Dad earned negative headlines that election cycle for his arrest on New Year’s Day 2010 on two misdemeanor firearms charges: possession of a firearm while under the influence and aiming a firearm. Eventually, he told me, both misdemeanors were dismissed.
In 2016, Sanson ran for Assembly District 13 in a Republican primary. Lost. He and five other Republicans challenged the primary results, alleging the voting machines malfunctioned. Another unsubstantiated but headline-grabbing complaint. Lost again.
Sanson became active in Veterans in Politics in 2004 and by 2007 had become president, trying to turn himself and the group into political powerhouses.
Sanson advocated for a veterans’ court, complained about how long it took Veterans Affairs to build a new hospital, testified on bills and became a go-to guy for the news media. When District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to charge the Las Vegas police officer who shot and killed unarmed veteran Stanley Gibson in December 2011, Sanson became the widow’s advocate.
Whatever political juice he has comes from his group’s endorsements of candidates — particularly in judicial races, where voters generally have very little information. No candidate dares snub a group that claims to represent veterans. Sanson claims his group currently represents “several thousand members.”
“There are lots of judges in Family Court we helped elect,” he said. “We’ve put on fundraisers, and we’ve looked up to them.”
I say Sanson is a self-promoter who uses veterans to enhance his clout and his visibility, most likely in hopes that, sometime later, he might actually win an election.
“I always have aspirations,” he told me when I asked about his political future.
Sanson said his own courtroom observations, starting about August 2016, have changed his mind about certain Family Court judges.
He said he doesn’t decide which litigant is right or wrong. He said his focus is “What did the judge do wrong?”
Sanson, who is not a lawyer but has experience as a bill collector, believes he knows best how judges should rule. He cites case after case where he says judges are wrong and abuse their discretion.
Complaints are one of his weapons of choice — although they’ve all been duds.
In July, he wrote Chief District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, citing specific cases, asking her to investigate 20 areas of concern. He copied 12 others, including Nevada Supreme Court justices, two legislators and the FBI. No action yet.
Sanson filed an ethics complaint against David Roger after the district attorney retired and went to work for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association in 2012. Nothing came of it.
Now Sanson is planning a protest Friday at 8 a.m. outside Family Court at the intersection of Bonanza and Pecos roads. His group has declared war, for a second time, against Family Court. So he says on Facebook, on his internet radio show and in email blasts.
It’s another chance for free publicity, another chance for him to exercise his First Amendment rights and hope the news media show up.
I won’t pretend Family Court is flawless. It’s not. At one time I received more complaints about Family Court than any other subject. Inevitably, one side leaves court unhappy with the judge.
Sanson’s attacks haven’t had much effect beyond infuriating Duckworth, who was twice rated the best judge in Family Court by local attorneys who participated in Review-Journal surveys.
For his declaration of war to have any impact, he’s going to have to win election to the Legislature.
Good luck with that.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Thursdays in the Nevada section. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.